Lake augmentation – a solution to low inland lake levels? Part 2

After a drought year, lake residents may be considering augmenting lake levels. MSUE Q&A document outlines regulation of water sources for lake augmentation projects.

Part 1 of this article discusses multiple regulations affecting lake augmentation projects. Michigan State University Extension, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Institute for Fisheries Research, has developed a user-friendly Q&A document that answers some common questions about recent (2008) regulation of water use in Michigan.

State regulation affecting potential water sources for a lake augmentation project is found under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act Part 327 and has to do with the use of groundwater or surface water in Michigan. A Michigan Department of Environmental Quality guidance document explains that “Depending on the size of the withdrawal proposed to service the augmentation project, it may be regulated under a new law passed in February 2006. Withdrawals over 100,000 gallons per day (averaged over a 90-day period) are required to report to the DEQ. Permits are required for proposed withdrawals greater than 2 million gallons per day from groundwater or inland wetlands, lakes, or streams (averaged over a 90-day period), or greater than 5 million gallons per day from the Great Lakes (averaged over a 90-day period).”

In most instances, a lake augmentation project will fall into the category of a large-quantity withdrawal as defined in the paragraph above. As such, a proposed project is subject to Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Process (the mechanism by which Michigan complies with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact). The first step of the “process” is accomplished through a free Internet-based screening tool designed to assess potential ecological impacts of a proposed large quantity withdrawal from groundwater or surface water.

 MSU Extension Bulletin WQ-60 entitled, Considering aquatic ecosystems: The basis for Michigan’s new Water Withdrawal Assessment Process, provides background information on the screening tool and how it works.

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