Title: Technical Aspects of Water Management Practices for the Paw Paw Basin
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00003065/00001
 Material Information
Title: Technical Aspects of Water Management Practices for the Paw Paw Basin
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: The Ronald Press Company
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Richard Hamann's Collection - Technical Aspects of Water Management Practices for the Paw Paw Basin
General Note: Box 12, Folder 7 ( The Law of Water Allocation In The Eastern United States - 1956 ), Item 17
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00003065
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

by Norman F. Billings*

The purpose of this papr is to explore the role of applied hydrology in
the development of water nd the regulation of water uses in the Paw Paw
Basin as exemplary of Michigan areas where consumptive and non-con-
sumptive uses are coming into competition. It considers this role both
with respect to the develop ment of legislation, in which hydrology is in-
volved chiefly from the standpoint of its general, basic principles, and
to the actual administration of water management practices, where the
science finds very detailed application.


Physical Conditi

The Paw Paw Basin consists of some 44
near the extreme southwest tern corner of th
gently undulating to moderately hilly, the sc
and the water table within a few feet or doz
surface as a general rule. The stream sysl
stage and discharge, with an estimated rati
and the 90% points on the ow duration cur'
Survey stream gaging stat on at Riverside.
lakes, ranging in size front a few acres up
Lake, the largest. Some o the lakes outlet
erally, intermittently, to t e stream system
let. From information els 'where in the sta
the very smallest ponds, marshes, and "we
tables. Water levels of the larger lakes an
the Paw Paw and its perm nent tributaries
water table.
A few small reservoir, have been develi
larger streams. Topographic maps indicate
tional dam sites with storage for several hi
Fairly large numbers of s nall farm ponds
and undoubtedly some site exist that woulc
the rather significant water volumes necese
irrigation systems. i


3 square miles of glacial drift
e state. The topography is
ils generally loamy to sandy,
ns of feet below the ground
em is relatively stable in
Sof 3.6 to 1 between the 10%
e for the U. S. Geological
The Basin contains many
o 900 acres for Paw Paw
permanently or, more gen-
. Others have no surface out-
e, it is assumed that some of
spots" express perched water
swamps, the main stream of
approximate the true ground

ped by building dams on the
* the possibility of some addi-
ndred acre-feet of water.
-ould probably be constructed
lend themselves to storage of
ary for operating supplemental

* Chief, Hydrology Division, Michigan Water Resources Commission.


Ground water resources may be somewhat above average for the state,
both in areal distribution and in potential yield. It is believed that very
substantial quantities are available in the glacial drift throughout much,
but not all, of the basin.

Present Water Use and Development

Soils, climate, proximity to markets and other factors in the vast com-
plex that determine resource usage have led to the development of an ag-
ricultural- industrial- recreational economy.
Agriculture is devoted, in a large degree to growing small fruits, tree
fruits, and truck and specialty crops, with a consequent somewhat unusual
adaptability to irrigation. Average annual applications of water are in the
neighborhood of 6 inches. The practice is growing steadily and rapidly,
doubling both in acreage and numbers of systems about every 3-1/2 years.
In 1954 the total area under irrigation was about 5,563 acres and the total
water use about 2,340 acre feet or 1,170 day second feet. On the other
hand, artificial drainage has been necessary to make some agricultural
lands arable.
Recreational water usage centers about the lakes, whose shores are be-
coming heavily built up with cottages and year round dwellings. Stable lake
levels are most desirable for all types of recreational use. Information is
not available as to the extent of recreational developments on streams but
such use is undoubtedly growing, both for residential and sports fishing
Hydro-electric power is developed at one downstream site, at Water-
vliet. The degree of water use there is not known but in Michigan generally
hydro-electric power plants use all medium and low flows.
Industries and municipalities, mostly on the lower reaches of the river,
use the Paw Paw for waste disposal. Their combined waste loading results
in pollution of the river to the extent that it is injurious to the public health,
lawful enterprise or fish and aquatic life during periods of low stream
flow. The pollution is accordingly unlawful and is being reduced under
orders of the Water Resources Commission. Those orders must be reas-
onable and cannot require that the reduction of waste loading be carried
any farther than is necessary to abate existing injury. However, if the low
stream flow on which pollution control orders are based is depleted, the
waste loadings, eVen though reduced, may again cause injury and therefore
be unlawful and subject to further Commission orders.
The Paw Paw thus contains all the types of water conditions, water and
land relationships, and water use problems that are found in the state. Be-
cause each river basin has its own physical and economic individuality, the
degree of those conditions, relationships and problems varies from basin
to basin. Those variations do not imply the need for different laws or ad-
ministrative practices in the various basins. The need, instead, is for flex-
ibility and responsiveness to needs whenever and wherever they occur.



Preparatory to enactm
upon to report the gener.
terms of the uses they wil
pected to vary from time I
water, from the records o
With respect to ground wa
tions because data are so
little more can be said tha
capable of meeting substai
throughout much of the arn
in most other river basins
ation, power development,
utilize the resources durii
distributed but the others
seasons, great quantities
flows-enough, in fact, to
non-consumptive uses, if
Under the principles o:
streams for waste dispose;
flow. Thus the Paw Paw
than can be used for wast
until at seasonal low, the
pollution control orders
excess flow occurs will
In addition to knowledge
Legislature will want to
needs. The hydrologist c
water use trends. Foreca
for collaboration by agri
The legislature will w;
the natural water situation
in the law. The hydrology
provement practices so
even though the law itself
ample, one such practice
some rather complicated
water from natural streak
drafters if they are to prq

nt of legislation, the hydrologist will be called
magnitude of rater resources available in
supply, and how those quantities may be ex-
otime. This he can do, with respect to surface
existing key lak and stream gaging stations.
er, he is limited to making broad generaliza-
eficient. In the w Paw Basin, for example,
that the ground water resources appear to be
tial municipal, i dustrial, and irrigation needs
a. As to lakes a d streams in the Paw Paw, like
of southern Mic igan, it can be said that recre-
and municipal ad industrial waste dilution fully
ordinary drouht; The recreation use is widely
re mostly at do stream locations. At other
f water escape uused as flood and freshet
eet all present conceivable consumptive and
t could be stored and released as needed.
Michigan polluti n control law, the use of
i is effectively 1 ited by their ordinary low
a an ordinary sp ing carries far more water
dilution. This e cess gradually diminishes
low approaches or reaches the rate upon which
ave been based. hen and in what quantities the
important to th Legislature.
About the resou ce and its current uses, the
ave the best poss ble basis for estimating future
n aid here by in stigating recent and current
sting likely exte sin of those trends will call
ritural, municipal industrial, and conservation

nt to know what 1
i in order that pr
it will need to ex
at their implicat
cannot deal with
on-channel store.
management prol
a flow that need i
vide properly fo:


things can be done to improve
vision for them may be made
)lain the various possible im-
ions may be fully understood,
them in any detail. For ex-
ge of excess water, involves
ilems in distinguishing stored
obe appreciated by the law-
Ssuch projects.


Far different from these simple duties are the tasks facing the


hydrologist in actual administration of water rights law. Now, instead of deal-
ing with general principles he must occupy himself with very specific facts.

Establishing Minimum Stream Flows and Lake Levels

The law will provide in some way for the protection of time-honored
rights-of that we can be certain. The first job in water management in
the Paw Paw Basin, then, will be to identify and evaluate those rights in
exact terms-cubic feet per second, acre-inches, hundredths of feet in
water level elevation. This will be necessary even though the rights in
question may never before have been recognized with such exactitude, in
order that additional needs may be filled to the greatest possible extent.
It is to be hoped that the law will at least say how such determinations
shall be made. That can be done as in the new Mississippi law, which
calls for the use of past stream-discharge records in computing or esti-
mating minimum flows to be reserved for non-consumptive uses. But
because some streams even at low flow carry much more water than is
needed for any present use, the law should also provide an alternate
basis for deciding how much the flow of such streams might safely be
Possibly that alternate could be expressed in the law as a rate of
stream flow per unit of drainage area, as, for example, ".4 cfs/sq.mi."
In that case; as with the past-record approach, the hydrologist's work is
mainly collecting and analyzing a great deal of stream-flow data. If, how-
ever, the law only relates the propriety of diversions to limits which are
set by the needs of fish life, then the hydrologist together with the fish
habitat authority have a very difficult job. The writer's understanding,
from Michigan fisheries authorities, is that only research and experience
will show how much water is required under the various possible condi-
tions, to sustain fish life on this stream or that.
The problem of ascertaining minimum lake level conditions that are
compatible with existing rights and needs is appreciably simpler than the
identification of minimum acceptable stream flow. Michigan has consid-
erable experience under statutory law in the establishment of "normal"
levels, which are reasonably susceptible of determination with respect to
the record of past levels, to existing development of shore properties, and
to fish spawning conditions.

Regulation of Diversions

After minimum stream flow rates and lake level elevations have been set,
the administrative functions come into full play with the allocation of prior-
ities to consumptive uses and the regulation of those uses with respect to
each other and to minimum flow or levels. Hydrologic activity requisite for


this phase consists of mai
knowledge of stream flow
the flow declines to rates
is imminent. Such knowlec
all uses when possible anc
ities exactly when stream
gaging stations and lake 1E
frequently during critical
A situation that will coi
tent nature of irrigation pi
started or stopped, the eff
slowly at rates that depend
The hydrologist will have
stream so that he can kno,
particular time is influence
Metering devices on the pi
rate accounting of water c

staining very ace
throughout the en
where terminatic
ge is, of course,
to terminate su(
conditions so rec
vel gages will ha
nplicate stream
impage as practi
act on flow of a s
i on the character
to learn those ra
v how much the f
ed by the various
imp outlets may

rate and up-to-the-minute
tire system-especially when
n of lowest-priority diversions
absolutely essential to permit
:h uses in order of their prior-
[uire. Many low-flow stream
ve to be maintained and checked

low appraisal is the intermit-
:ed in this State. As pumps are
team moves downstream rather
.istics of that particular stream.
:es for every critical reach of
.ow at a check station at any
; upstream pumping activities.
)e necessary to permit accu-

Excess Water Storage On-channel

Where on-channel rese
veloped on permanent str(
quantities from those repi
sented. The limitations in
Smay make it very difficult
to evaluate the volume bei
way of getting at the answi
a storage-curve for each
which reservoir storage it
should, theoretically, be s
doubt the practicality of ai
and are at present inclined
Logically be applied, on an
whatever other figure car
ervoir's average water su

rvoirs for the stc
ams a problem c
esented by the n,
accuracy of stre
to balance inflow
ag released from
*r to this problem
*eservoir and pei
i depleted. Some
abtracted from tl
tempting to asse
I to think that a f
area basis-for
?ful study indicate
rface arei for th

rage of excess water are de-
f distinguishing the stored
.tural stream flow will be pre-
am measurement techniques
Against outflow and thereby
storage at any time. Another
i ight consist of developing
emittingg use at the rate by
computed evaporation loss
ie allowable use quantity. We
ss actual evaporation losses
[at monthly loss rate might
example, 5" per month or
as is proper, times the res-
a month.

Excess Water Storage Off-channel

It would seem that the '
runoff for beneficial uses.
projects would be necessa
tion indicated would be ad
requirements for best res

aw should author
Little administi
ry and the main I
iice as to pond ci

ize the detention of overland
ative supervision over such
ype of hydrologic consulta-
Instruction and drainage area


Ground Water Problems

The Paw Paw Basin, like many other irrigable areas in Michigan, of-
fers substantial potentialities for obtaining water from the ground. Except
as ground water supplies are permanently depleted, their production is
largely at the expense of stream flow. Where pumping lowers the water
table beyond reach of phreatophytes, evapo-transpiration losses will be
reduced. Significant water savings may result in some cases. However,
widespread and heavy pumping is bound to cause some reduction in stream
flow and lake levels. The effect will not be as drastic as from direct sur-
face water diversions, but will tend to be spread over weeks or months.
It will be least at the beginning of the irrigation season and will increase
as the season progresses.
Pumping tests will be useful in estimating the degree of diminution in
flow or lake levels which may result from ground water production. Such
tests are laborious, expensive, and require highly skilled technicians for
their interpretation. We would look for them to be employed in the devel-
opment of general guides to ground water management rather than on a
wholesale basis.
It is difficult at present to visualize the criteria which might be selected
as bases for regulating ground water pumping. It seems unavoidable that
production from the ground must enjoy a favorable position in relation to
direct diversions from surface water. When streams and lakes reach base
conditions, the enforced cessation of diversions therefrom will at once
terminate their effects. But ordering a well shut off at that time, half a
mile distant from a stream, will produce no observable response at all
in the stream. Shutting off a hundred wells might cause some improvement
in stream flow after a period of weeks, but the critical conditions may well
have been ended by then. Unless a benefit is produced, we can see no point
in requiring the cessation of pumpage. If wells are to be allowed at all,
they might as well be allowed to operate continuously. A more logical ap-
proach might lie in limiting the total allowable monthly pumping from
wells within the drainage basin. But every well's pumpage reduces stream
flow to some degree and thereby aggravates the conditions which we seek
to prevent in reserving base flows from direct diversion. No benefit would
result from reserving a greater flow in an attempt to anticipate and ac-
commodate the effects of ground water pumping. The effect of diversions
on a surface stream can be terminated very quickly by stopping the diver-
sion. The effect on stream flow of pumping from the ground, on the other
hand, will persist long after the pumping is stopped. But who can forecast
stream flow conditions with sufficient accuracy to substantiate, in court,
the need for shutting off wells weeks ahead of time ?

Indirect Improvement Through Cooperative Effort

Although we use the word "inter-related" a great deal in discussing the


basic principles of water
cases, the relationship is
of a given practice occurs
to improve their water re
Foot the bill, however mei
benefits accrue to a large
while for them to subsidi2
forestation, soil conserve
charge'and even in some
such group-sponsored act
gist, soil conservationist
advice as the best location

It is apparent that the i
the Paw Paw Basin will ii
to constitute some expense
essitated by natural flow
users. However, the mor
regulation is, the less fai
writer anticipates little a
scrupulous care and the g
is growing so critical thal
insist on such accuracy,
close watch on water res(

management, we must remember that in many
highly unilateral, with most if not all the effects
ing downstream. Downstream interests seeking
sources can hardly expect upstream interests to
itorious a particular project may be. Where the
number of people it may accordingly be worth-
e such indirect improvement measures as re-
tion, infiltration reservoirs, ground water re-
:ases, drainage. Procedures for carrying out
Lon should be provided in the law. The hydrolo-
ind geologist in collaboration can provide useful
i and choice of such practices.


;ystematic management of water resources in
evolve enough continuous data collection and study
e. The day-to-day regulation of uses that is nec-
variations will certainly be a nuisance to the water
i guesswork is permitted and the more casual
* will be the management to all concerned. The
:tive opposition to a system that is handled with
greatest possible accuracy. The need for water
: all parties to the problem can be expected to
rhich can be maintained only by keeping very
urce conditions.

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