The Great Lakes Basin represents the largest reserve of fresh water in the world. It is a unique resource that should be utilized in a responsible manner and protected for future generations and the future of Michigan agriculture. Food and fiber production is in the public interest, is a reasonable use of water, and provides economic and ecological benefits to the Great Lakes Basin.
Michigan has implemented a science-based water withdrawal assessment tool. The process has experienced complications and technical difficulties. Pursuant to information received from the director of the Michigan Geological Survey, the current data used in the water withdrawal assessment tool is insufficient for the purpose of adequately mapping and assessing Michigan groundwater resources and consideration of applications for groundwater withdrawal. Although an evaluation performed by the Water Resources Conservation Advisory Council found that the assessment tool provides automatic authorization for withdrawals in over 80 percent of all cases statewide, Michigan Farm Bureau believes continued improvement of the assessment tool is needed including, but not limited to, the following:
As there are significant differences between Michigan regions regarding water availability and use, we recognize a “one size fits all” solution may not be the best answer. We support completion of the comprehensive water use study in Southwest Michigan to collect the data necessary to make appropriate changes within the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. MFB supports the Southwest Water Resource Council which is charged with studying water resources in the region. We further support the creation of regional models that would potentially pre-empt the site specific review within the state’s well approval process.
We recommend that privately collected data from a monitoring well, or hydrogeologic study of a larger geographic area, be accepted as proof there is no adverse resource impact. Where there is a suspected adverse resource impact, the burden of proof should lie with the State to physically verify the adverse impact.
We reaffirm that management and regulation of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin does not require water use permitting. Burdensome regulation is not necessary to protect the Great Lakes and could challenge the competitiveness of Michigan farms. Any laws that include water use permitting must be carefully examined and opposed if they do not include the following provisions: