Earlier this year Michigan Farm Bureau and its membership identified and discussed challenges with water use in Southwest Michigan, a region vital to the state’s agriculture industry.
With growing concerns about delays and denials of large quantity water registrations by the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) program, the Southwest Michigan Farmers for Responsible Water Use, a 501(c)(5) not-for-profit group, began collecting groundwater and surface water data in the region. They also began raising money for a project that would look at watersheds on a larger scale, monitoring irrigation impacts to streams in the region.
After more than two years of project development, negotiation with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and generous sponsorship by many Michigan farmers, the State of Michigan, the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, and both Michigan and U.S. Geological Surveys, a pilot project has begun.
The project will collect data to help the WWAT program take its first steps toward a regional approach that will improve the system's accuracy and better ensure users can access water where it is available without causing harmful environmental impact.
The group’s three-year project will refine the WWAT's site-specific review process by collecting data from monitoring wells and creating models to take into account local geologic and groundwater characteristics in five major watersheds in and around Cass County.
Defining water resources at a regional level will assure that capital investments made today will be sustainable in the future and for the life of business operations.
This project will better identify the water resources in Southwest Michigan, which will assist in growth planning for all business sectors. It will also answer key questions about potential resource impacts from large quantity water withdrawals, an absolutely necessary step to be able to accurately assess water availability while protecting natural resources.
Please contact us with any questions:
Ben Russell, 269-506-1590
Southwest Michigan Farmers for Responsible Water Use, Inc.
PO Box 235
Constantine, MI 49042