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 WWAT.
We support the changes made by PA 209 of 2018 to provide for an optional alternate process for site specific reviews of high-capacity water withdrawals. This new law is based on updated scientific modeling and provides a more accurate reflection of the regional variability of water use impacts. Additionally, the new law clarifies the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (MDEGLE) role and timeframes for review and approval of withdrawal applications under the new process. We encourage MFB to oversee the implementation of the new law and develop educational information about the new process for members. MFB supports the Southwest Water Resource Council which is charged with studying water resources in the region.
We support the Aquifer Conflict and Dispute Resolution law and further support the following changes to the process:
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: