How to use the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool
People who use the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool enter information about where they want to locate the well, how deep it will be, and what the pumping capacity will be. The assessment tool recognizes that deeper wells or wells farther from the flowing water are less likely to have an adverse effect on the river or stream flow, but it does not distinguish between well capacity and actual use.
Here’s how the overall procedure works, as described by Lyndon Kelley, Extension irrigation specialist for Michigan State University and Purdue University in Indiana:
A farmer determines how much water he needs. He establishes the needed pumping capacity and probable location for the new withdrawal.
He works through the Michigan Large Volume Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (MiWWAT) for a determination, using the Web site www.miwwat.org.
If the MiWWAT assessment is green (zone A) or yellow (zone B), he can proceed to register and implement the proposed water withdrawal.
If the MiWWAT assessment is orange (zone C) or red (zone d), he tries to modify location (move farther from the river or stream) or well depth (drill deeper) to reduce stream flow impact. If a more favorable assessment cannot be achieved, a Site Specific Review may be requested from Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. That review cannot be denied, and it is free.
If the MDNRE Site Specific Review does not provide a favorable registration to proceed, the landowner may initiate a meeting of the Large Volume Water Users in the watershed to investigate reduction in water use by fellow large volume water users. (Remember, he has a right to a share of the water, no matter when he enters the picture as a water user.)
If the meeting of Large Volume Water Users does not provide MDNRE with sufficient reductions in use by other riparians to allow the proposed water use, civil court action may be necessary to establish the riparian right to water use for the parcel.