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2005 Senate Bill 850: Require groundwater use permits

Public Act 33 of 2006

  1. Introduced by Sen. Patricia Birkholz (R) on October 27, 2005, to require a state groundwater withdrawal permit for users that withdraw more than two million gallons a day. The bill would require the Department of Environmental Quality to issue a permit within 60 days if the withdrawal will not cause an adverse resource impact or is from a confined aquifer. This is defined as an aquifer overlain by geologic material that has a low hydraulic conductivity and impedes or prevents vertical groundwater movement, and “adverse resource impact” is defined as decreasing the base flow of a stream or lowering the level of a body of surface water such that it will no longer support characteristic fish populations. A permit application fee of $1,000 would be charged, and violations would be subject to civil penalties of $5,000 per day. Language in the bill states that it is not intended to affect or interfere with existing common law water rights. See also House Bills 5366 and 5371.
    • Referred to the Senate Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee on October 27, 2005.
      • Reported in the Senate on December 7, 2005, with the recommendation that the substitute (S-6) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
    • Substitute offered in the Senate on December 7, 2005, to only require permits for large withdrawals to "supply a common distribution system," and instead simply prohibit groundwater withdrawals that cause an “adverse impact” on the resource. See Senate-passed version for details. The substitute passed by voice vote in the Senate on December 7, 2005.
    • Amendment offered by Sen. Liz Brater (D) on December 8, 2005, to also tie-bar the bill to Senate Bill 850, meaning this bill cannot become law unless that one does also. SB 850 would repeal the riparian water use doctrine of Michigan law, which establishes that a property owner has a property right to the use of groundwater drawn from beneath his or her land, as long as this does not interfere with another person’s use of groundwater. The amendment failed 16 to 19 in the Senate on December 8, 2005.
      Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

    • Amendment offered by Sen. Liz Brater (D) on December 8, 2005, to give the DEQ the authority to define "adverse impact" through its rulemaking process. The amendment failed 16 to 20 in the Senate on December 8, 2005.
      Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  2. Passed 36 to 0 in the Senate on December 8, 2005, to prohibit a person from making a large quantity groundwater withdrawal (more than 100,000 gallons per day) that causes an adverse resource impact to a designated trout stream; or, beginning in two years, one that causes any adverse resource impact as defined by the "assessment tool" that would be developed under Senate Bill 851. Withdrawals to "supply a common distribution system" would require a permit. A user could request a determination from DEQ that a withdrawal would not cause an adverse impact. Local governments would be preempted from regulating in this area.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  3. Received in the House on December 8, 2005.
    • Referred to the House Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use, and Environment Committee on December 8, 2005.
      • Reported in the House on February 9, 2006, with the recommendation that the substitute (H-4) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
    • Substitute offered in the House on February 9, 2006, to replace the previous version of the bill with one that includes language prohibiting any water "diversion" from the Great Lakes basin, but excluding "comsumptive" uses from this. Water packaged in a container less than 5.7 gallons would be considered consumptive. The substitute passed by voice vote in the House on February 9, 2006.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. David Palsrok (R) on February 9, 2006, to clarify the which parts of the constitution are claimed as the authority for the legislature's power to regulate in this area. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on February 9, 2006.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. David Palsrok (R) on February 9, 2006, to not tie bar the bill to Senate Bill 355, which relates to a proposed “clean corporate citizen” program. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on February 9, 2006.
  4. Passed 100 to 4 in the House on February 9, 2006, to prohibit a person from making a large quantity groundwater withdrawal (more than 100,000 gallons per day) that causes an adverse resource impact to a designated trout stream; or, beginning in two years, one that causes any adverse resource impact as defined by the "assessment tool" that would be developed under Senate Bill 851. Withdrawals to "supply a common distribution system" would require a permit. A user could request a determination from DEQ that a withdrawal would not cause an adverse impact. Local governments would be preempted from regulating in this area. Water "diversions" from the Great Lakes basin would be prohibited, but "comsumptive" uses in which water is incorporated into a product or food item would be exempt from this. Water packaged in a container less than 5.7 gallons would be considered consumptive.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  5. Received in the Senate on February 9, 2006.
  6. Passed 37 to 0 in the Senate on February 9, 2006, to concur with the House-passed version of the bill, which also prohibits water "diversions" from the Great Lakes basin, but "comsumptive" uses in which water is incorporated into a product or food item would be exempt from this. Water packaged in a container less than 5.7 gallons would be considered consumptive.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  7. Signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on February 22, 2006.

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