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Groundwater Dispute Resolution Introduction
High-capacity water wells sometimes disrupt the normal operation of nearby residential wells. Problems typically occur because a high-capacity well has lowered the water level of an aquifer below the level that nearby wells were designed to operate at, but may also come from drawing in brine or other low-quality water into an aquifer. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) can help to mediate a resolution for the residential well owner.
Part 317, Aquifer Protection and Dispute Resolution, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, created a groundwater dispute resolution process that is jointly administered by EGLE and MDARD. Complaints involving high-capacity agricultural wells are handled by MDARD and EGLE handles complaints against other high-capacity wells.
Complaints must be submitted using the Groundwater Dispute Complaint form and include a Water Supply Assessment form completed by a licensed well driller. The Water Supply Assessment form provides written documentation from a licensed well driller stating that the problems with the residential well aren't due to equipment failure or well damage that is unrelated to the operation of a nearby high-capacity well.
If EGLE or MDARD aren’t able to resolve the groundwater dispute, the Directors of EGLE or MDARD have the authority to declare a groundwater dispute. The EGLE or MDARD Director then orders the immediate provision of an adequate supply of potable water. The EGLE or MDARD Director can also order restrictions on pumping of the high-capacity well and order the high-capacity well owner to provide timely and reasonable compensation to the impacted small-quantity well owner.