The “year of water” initiative will focus broadly on responsible use and combating invasive species, Wyant said. A compact between Michigan and the seven other Great Lakes states requires them to adopt conservation policies.
Michigan developed a computer tool that assesses whether proposals for withdrawing more than 100,000 gallons of water per day for uses such as irrigation or manufacturing would harm nearby rivers and streams. Some critics have questioned the tool’s effectiveness, though Allan said it has worked “remarkably well” in most cases but acknowledged it could be improved.
A council of stakeholder groups — Trout Unlimited, the Michigan Farm Bureau and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce — will come up with ideas for improving the tool, as well as develop proposals for resolving water use conflicts and monitoring surface and ground water supplies.
The invasive species strategy calls for responding more quickly when exotic plants or animals are spotted in Michigan waters and working more closely with local groups to limit their spread.
Scientists with state agencies are studying a report released last month by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that lists options for preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes through waterways in the Chicago area, said Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Michigan is talking with neighboring states about ways to physically separate the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River watersheds more quickly and less expensively than envisioned by the Corps report, which says such a massive project could cost up to $18 billion and take 25 years to complete, Creagh said.
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