State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008MI118B
Title: Water Use and Water Demand by Self-supplied Residential Water Users in Michigan Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: Eighth
Focus Categories: Economics, Groundwater, Water Use
Keywords: Groundwater use, water demand, self-supplied water use
Principal Investigators: Norris, Patricia; Seedang, Saichon; Thompson, Mary)
Federal Funds: $ 15,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 32,054
Abstract: Groundwater is considered the primary water supply source for residential use in the state of Michigan. Nearly half of Michigan?s population relies on groundwater sources for drinking water. According to a National Groundwater Association report, almost 63 percent of total groundwater withdrawn in Michigan is used for residential use, either through community public water supplied wells or private self-supplied individual wells. Groundwater is also a significant water source for other development uses such as irrigation, recreation (golf courses), industry and commercial uses. There is increasing local and statewide concern about growing demand for groundwater withdrawal leading to supply shortages and adverse impacts on aquatic ecosystems dependant on groundwater. This is particularly important as these water-dependent natural resources are becoming a main attraction for eco-tourism for Michigan's economy. In addition, Michigan is facing pressure from changes in regional policy (i.e., the Annex 2001) which requires each state and province of the Great Lakes region to develop a new decision-making standard to apply to water withdrawal.

Michigan recognizes this important issue and over the past few years there have been significant changes in water resource management within the state. Recent water use laws in Michigan (i.e., PA 34 of 2006 and other associated laws addressing water use) have focused on regulating withdrawal of high capacity wells and other high volume withdrawals (e.g., irrigation, industrial and commercial wells, bottling).The main purpose of these laws is to minimize conflicts over water use and/or mitigate impacts of withdrawal on residential water use, as well as to protect stream ecological functions. Overall, the new and modified water resource management has been impressive; however there has been less emphasis on the importance of researching water use information, especially the use of and demand for groundwater. The estimated water use by various sectors has not been comprehensive. Currently water use data are registered and reported to the state only at a certain capacity threshold, mostly large withdrawals (over 100,000 gallons per minute). The data collection and reports are driven by legislative purposes, not by management and planning needs. Therefore low level withdrawals, such as private residential wells, are not required to report their use, nor have they been taken into account for any water management and planning.

The aim of this research is to fill in the gaps of water use information necessary for developing comprehensive water use planning. The proposed research focuses on an estimation of per capita self-supplied residential water use, the major use of groundwater withdrawal in Michigan, at selected sites. The research also seeks to understand trends and behaviors as well as factors that influence self-supplied water use which can be useful for further developing water conservation policy. For the first phase of this project (2008-2009), the USGS funds will be used for supporting research development and planning for conducting a survey of residential self-supply water users. Currently, self-supplied residential withdrawal is rarely measured or reported at the state and national level. To date, there has been no research focused on estimating water use and demand for self-supplied residential use. Estimated per capita use coefficients were either derived using public-supply delivery data for domestic use, or were obtained from undocumented data. The proposed research will provide information for a better estimation of self-supplied residential withdrawal and use and can be integrated into water management and planning at the local watershed scale. In addition, this proposed project will serve as a model for other similar sites, either statewide, regionally or at the national level.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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