Large quantity water withdrawals requirements

All large quantity water withdrawals proposed after June 8, 2009, must be registered and approved as not likely to cause an adverse resource impact.

Large quantity water withdrawals – those with capacity of 70 gallons per minute or greater – are common features on many Michigan farms. We all think about irrigation and processing water, but many cooling systems in fruit, vegetable and dairy production are larger than the 70 gpm or greater threshold for registration and reporting. Many new livestock and greenhouse expansions will raise water needs to where a producer needs to be aware of the law’s requirements.

Large quantity water withdrawals proposed after June 8, 2009, must receive a favorable assessment from Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool or an approval from a requested site-specific review by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and be registered before proceeding. If a site-specific review by the MDEQ or an evaluation by the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool determines that a proposed withdrawal is a Zone A or a Zone B withdrawal, there is a rebuttable presumption that the withdrawal, as specified in the review or tool, will not cause an adverse resource impact. Beginning February 28, 2006, a person shall not make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal that causes an adverse resource impact. A person who knowingly makes a new or increased large quantity withdrawal that causes an adverse resource impact may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $10,000 per day of violation. Falsifying a record submitted in this process may result in a civil fine of not more than $1,000.

Here is an overview of what you need to do to legally get LV water withdrawal:

  • Determine need pumping capacity and probable location for the new withdrawal.
  • If the MiWWAT assessment is green (Zone A) or yellow (Zone B), you can proceed to register your purposed water withdrawal. Building can happen in the following 18 months and any small modification can be noted by returning to the tool and modifying your original request.
  • If the MiWWAT assessment is orange (Zone C) or red (Zone D), try to modify location or well depth to reduce stream flow impact. If more favorable assessment cannot be achieved, a Site Specific Review may be requested from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality through the MiWWAT tool.
  • If the MDEQ Site Specific Review does not provide a favorable registration to proceed, the landowner may initiate a meeting of large volume water users to investigate reduction in water use by fellow large volume water users. MDEQ would like to be kept informed during the process. Resolutions resulting in reduced water use by current large volume water users making water available to a new user would need to be approved and documented by MDEQ.

If the meeting of large volume water users does not provide MDEQ with sufficient reductions in use by other riparian to allow your proposed water, civil court action may be necessary to establish the riparian right to water use for the parcel.

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