Home > Explore! > Ground Water and Wells > Water Resources Planning > January 2008 Notes
Water Resources Planning Committee
January 15, 2008
1:30 - 3:30 PM
DEP Response Building, 4 Blossom Lane
- Marvinney gave an overview of the charge to this group as set forth by the Legislature. Some key points are that the legislation:
- Defines the participating groups in the Committee.
- Establishes a 3-phase process, which begins with identifying and further researching watersheds at risk in the first phase, convenes local planning groups to address problems in the second phase, and recommends further actions to the Legislature in the third phase, only in the event the previous two phases fail to resolve issues.
- We briefly discussed funding for this program. The Legislature did not provide any new funding, but the Maine Geological Survey will be contributing at least 1½ staff to this effort. Several state agencies will provide some funds. Some funds will come from the private sector. It will be beneficial to consider work in watersheds that might provide a linkage to other sources of funding, e.g. issues related to irrigation, to augment the available funds.
- Marc Loiselle reviewed his analysis of watersheds at risk. This process used available information from many sources to compare water uses, including in-stream flows, and the amount of water available in each basin (fully described in the final report of the regulatory review committee, available at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/water/regs/final.htm)
The goal of the watersheds-at-risk exercise was to determine the magnitude of a potential problem with all manner of water uses in Maine. Through this analysis we determined that a process to address water issues should be focused on specific watersheds rather than being applied statewide.
An important point to keep in mind is that this analysis was constrained to a particular medium size of watersheds. If the analysis were done on the smallest watersheds available digitally, perhaps a greater number of watersheds would be identified as having potential issues, but their aggregate area would be less than those watersheds identified in this analysis.
- We further discussed enhancements to the analysis. Marc had made some changes to how water volumes for in-stream flows were determined in the process, to better reflect the nature of natural hydrographs in Maine, but found that this did not significantly change the results. One important point that we need to consider when looking at individual watersheds in more detail is the need to consider seasonality - both in water use and water availability. We might also consider less than average precipitation conditions.
- We briefly discussed the impact of climate change on the outcome of supply/demand type analyses. It would be fairly direct to consider changes in the analysis under drier or wetter conditions, but we will not be doing any specific climate analysis in this work.
- Activities that we might pursue in selected watersheds to further illuminate water issues include the following:
- Refine a quantitative water budget.
- Develop quantitative estimates of sustainable yield from aquifers.
- Improve measurement of surface water flow.
- Refine characteristics of sand and gravel aquifer resources.
- Predict impacts of additional consumption.
- Jim Wilfong briefly reviewed the legislative process that established this group. There has been a focus on water issues for several years, brought on partly by local concerns about water withdrawals and their impacts on other resources and other uses and rapid population growth (Fryeburg at 10+%). Two bills were introduced in the first session of the 123rd Legislature, one to establish a more encompassing Water Resources Board along with other changes to statute, and the other bill advanced the agricultural and water utilities communities addressed broad-scale water planning. Through intense negotiations among all parties, the final bill established this committee and made some significant changes to the regulatory framework governing large ground water withdrawals. In particular, under the former regulations, it has been very difficult to consider the cumulative impacts of water withdrawals in a watershed. Our process begins to move us in a direction to consider those cumulative impacts.
- Barry Sanford introduced a discussion of the economics of what we do - what will it cost water users? At one level, the Legislature has already considered the economic impacts of additional regulation by establishing the Committee's process, which is non-regulatory and has no direct economic impact on users, at least in the first phase (selecting watersheds, improving information). In the second phase, we will convene local planning groups in a watershed, and at that level, economics will be part of the discussion.
- We discussed a strategy for identifying particular watersheds for further study. Ideally, they should include multiple users of different types. There may be some watersheds where there is anecdotal information about potential issues that do not show up on our map due to their small size. Participants are encouraged to bring those forward for discussion. It would be good to focus a fair amount of the effort on watersheds the Maine Geological Survey identified in its analysis in order to validate that analysis.
Next meeting in late March - date and place TBD.
Action items for next meeting:
- MGS will review information in the watersheds-at-risk analysis and recommend watersheds for further work.
- Others should bring forward candidate watersheds based on other information.
- MGS will outline tasks and timeframes for additional work in selected watersheds.
- R. Marvinney, Maine Geological Survey
- M. Loiselle, Maine Geological Survey
- T. Weddle, Maine Geological Survey
- B. Sanford, Maine Groundwater Association
- J. Wilfong, H2O for ME
- A. Wong, Maine Rural Water Association
- S. Belyea, Maine Dept. Agriculture
- T. Hobbs, Maine Potato Board
- S. Timpano, Maine Dept. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- D. Bell, Wild Blueberry Commission
- A. Tolman, Maine Drinking Water Program
- T. Brennan, Poland Spring
- M. Spencer-Famous, Maine Land Use Regulation Commission
- J. McNelly, Maine Water Utilities Association
- J. Hopeck, Maine Dept. Environmental Protection
Last updated on October 9, 2008