Irrigation and water use updates to be held

The rapid expansion of irrigation, heavy summer water use and the new on-line system for water use reporting will be discussed at update sessions.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are working together to provide information about three issues important to Michigan’s agriculture-oriented large capacity water users. Large capacity water users are those with the capacity to pump 70 gallons per minute of water from one or more wells or surface water pumps on the same or adjacent properties. Workshops will be held with a focus on water policy, well to well water conflict and on-line water use reporting.

Large capacity water users are required to register proposed large water withdrawals prior to well or system construction and report their use annually. The registration process is done via the Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. Many watersheds in Michigan have now required a site-specific review be conducted by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) before a withdrawal can take place. There are many old, unneeded water withdrawals in the system that should be removed. MDEQ now recognizes that pumping from confined aquifers may not have an effect on the flows in the local watershed which may change reporting and review requirements.

In 2012, an early spring, lack of normal spring rainfall followed by summer drought was common in many areas of Michigan. These factors, combined with higher than normal need for irrigation and other water uses, led to falling static water levels and well-water conflicts in some areas. For decades courts have ruled that Michigan’s Riparian Doctrine holds large capacity water users responsible for neighboring small wells that are proven to be impacted by their withdrawals. Well construction codes and well yield-test data are important in determining the responsibility of large capacity well users.

Reporting of large capacity water use is important. It is required by law and adds to our ability manage our water resources. Agricultural-related large capacity water use is reported to MDARD annually with a breakdown by month. From 2006 to 2011 the reporting has been done through a paper form. There is a new online system for reporting 2012 water use.

Update meetings are offered at four locations (see below) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by optional computer training with producer records. Steve Miller from MSU Bio-Systems and Agricultural Engineering Department will present a review and update of Michigan water use policy including how MDEQ is dealing with registration issues. Lyndon Kelley, MSU/Purdue Extension Irrigation Educator will review how well conflicts have been handled in Michigan’s past and present information on well codes and well yield test. Abby Eaton of MDARD will introduce water users to the new on-line reporting system for reporting 2012 water use.

There is no cost for the meeting, but please register so we can have adequate handout material. For additional information visit MSU Extension Irrigation page or view the program flyer.

To register for any of the locations, please call (269) 467-5522 at least two days before the meeting. Locations are:

Tues., Nov. 13 - Ottawa County Fillmore Administration Building, West Olive

Tues., Nov. 20 – RESD Building, Ithaca

Mon., Dec. 10 - Branch Area Career Center, Coldwater

Tues., Dec. 11- MSU SWMRC Center, Benton Harbor

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