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Community management of water resources

David Zetland, postdoctoral fellow, resource economics | August 23, 2010

In Michigan, the legislature has adopted a law that makes all of the users of water in a catchment responsible for not having an impact on the resource. All property owners have a right to reasonable use of the water under their property. Riparians have a right to reasonably use the water in streams that abut their property.

If any new use has the potential to cause a problem to the critters in the stream, all users have to modify their uses. The hope is that this happens voluntarily and through private deals. It will, however, end up in court at some point and we’ll see what happens then.

This is all enabled by a web-based tool that anyone can use to estimate what would happen if, for example, a new well is placed in the watershed. Ecological impacts are estimated and displayed. If no impact is predicted, the system approves a permit and the well is registered with the state.

As of early this summer, some 170 new withdrawls have been reviewed, and only 25% of those now go to an agency staffer to review. Of all requests, less than 1% have been declined.

Check it out!

Cross-posted from Aguanomics, a water economics blog.

Comments to “Community management of water resources

  1. Water is the most valuable of all natural resources. We don’t care just because it is available to us free.

    One should only use it and not misuse it. We can survive without oil, gold, internet but we simply can’t live without water.

  2. Professor Zetland;
    97 to 98 percent of the water on this blue green phenomenon is saltwater.In the third world fresh water that is potable is nonexistent,1% might be available for consumption in whats left of all the aquifers world wide.In my opinion water is more valuable than oil.The next flash point of conflict will be over water!I would be delighted to read a letter on your take of this subject.

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