Earlier this year State Representative Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor introduced House Bill 5290.  HB 5290 was introduced to “Replace right to reasonable groundwater use doctrine with government permits”.

This legislation looks to “establish that groundwater is a “public trust.” This would repeal the current legal doctrine that gives the owner of real property a property right to the reasonable use of groundwater, to the extent, this does not diminish the ability of neighbor property owners to obtain water. Instead, the use of groundwater would be conditional, subject to state approval and regulation. The current “riparian” water use doctrine is the norm east of the Mississippi River, but not in arid states of the west.”

The problem with the bill as introduced is that it could actually affect Michigan farmers, as reported by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

In 2016, irrigation for agriculture accounted for 44% of “consumptive water use” in Michigan, according to data from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The department defines consumptive water use as “the portion of a water withdrawal that is not returned locally due to evaporation, incorporation into products, or transport out of the Great Lakes Basin.

Due to this any farm or business that ship products out of state would be required to obtain permission from Michigan’s state environmental regulators, good luck with the bureaucracy involved with that agency.  You may eventually get approval years later after spending a lot of money.  I know businesses who had to get approval from that agency in the past and it is ugly.

Why the state environmental regulators; because this bill would specifically empower state environmental regulators to impose rules that are, in its words:

necessary to sufficiently ensure the protection of the public trust in the waters of this state.

Why don’t these legislators understand what the bills they sign on to actually will do other than accepting the cliff notes version from whoever is actually writing them and probably know exactly how they will affect all in the state.

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