As an increasing number of Water Management Areas in Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) restrict new wells, it is becoming more important for farmers to collect data about their use and its impacts to aquifers and surface waters. This data collection can not only help identify geological conditions to demonstrate whether a new use will impact nearby wells or streams but can also help farmers evaluate irrigation practices and technology.
Data collection and modeling can be expensive, but farmers can work together to reduce costs: groups like the Midwest Water Stewards organize across a region, sharing services of consultants and using the data collected on each of their farms to improve modeling capability for the entire area. In other states, water use monitoring is helping in legal disputes: Florida and Georgia have battled in the courts for decades over access to the Apalachicola watershed, but farmers use well monitors to demonstrate their high-efficiency irrigation systems meet requirements for responsible use of the disputed waters.
Whether the data is used to improve Michigan’s water use regulation or defend a farmer’s irrigation in a legal or regulatory challenge, farmers will increasingly need to collect and understand data about the water they use to improve crop yields and production reliability.
Contact: Laura Campbell | 517-679-5332
Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has been reluctant to accept new models and data for use in the WWAT program. How can farmers and consultants find cost-effective ways to demonstrate the quality of data they collect?
Farmers have been reluctant to share data they collect about water use impacts out of concern it will be used to increase regulation on them. How can that data better be safely shared to increase knowledge about geological conditions without putting farmers at risk?
Improving irrigation efficiency can help farmers in Water Management Areas where access is limited: how can farmers and Michigan Farm Bureau better promote adoption of new irrigation equipment and technology to improve efficiency and save farmers water and power?
MFB Policy #85 Water Use in the Great Lakes Basin
AFBF Policy #548 Water Use
Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool
Midwest Water Stewards
Apalachicola Watershed Dispute
Aquifer Dispute Resolution