Midwest Water Stewards, Groundwater Monitoring Funded by Agriculture
February 18, 2021
- [Eric] Lyndon, would you mind recording on your machine as a backup in case mine, I don't know what's going on with my internet at home but if I end up with a garbled version it would be good to have a backup. - [Lyndon] Okay, I'll hit the record button. - [Eric] All right, good afternoon, everyone. It is the top of the hour. So we're gonna go ahead and get started. This is the second to the last session of the water management track. And I'd like to welcome you for those of you who might be joining for the first time for the week as is the Mi AG Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. My name is Eric Anderson. I'm a field crops educator based in St. Joseph County and covering the Southwest and South central part of the state. And it's my pleasure to welcome you to the water management track. And then specifically to this session Midwest Water Stewards groundwater monitoring, funded by agriculture. We're gonna hear from Todd Feenstra in a bit. So the session is, excuse me. This session is eligible for RUP and CCA credits. If you're interested in receiving those credits please ensure that your name in Zoom here includes both your first and last name. And I understand you probably can't see your name but if your full name is not appearing on the list I'll be sending you a private chat. So please monitor your chatbox. This is how we'll verify who's attending the session as we send that up to MDR for these requests. Please also note that the participants must be on for the entire session in order to receive their credits at the conclusion of the session here I will share a little information on exactly how you get those credits. So before we get started I just wanna take a minute to thank our sponsors who are on the screen here due to their generous support. We're able to offer this event at no charge to you. So this is actually really nice. We've got a whole week full of presentations. If you're able to catch any of the other tracks a wide range of topics this week. And so it really grateful for the contributions for and from our sponsors here. We're also able to offer a college scholarship opportunity. So please check out that website for more information if you're interested in that. So we also got a video that I'd like to show. So I'm gonna stop sharing this screen and choose another screen to share. Caring for crops and animals creates a unique stress and pressure that can be hard on farmers and agribusiness professionals caring for one's own health and wellness and the high stress profession here is it's often overlooked but is such a critical area just as critical as caring for your farm business. Whether these stresses come from financial issues or the stresses of everyday life and MSU Extension can help. And I've got a prerecorded video from MSU Extension educator Eric Karbowski who focuses on farm stress issues. And he's gonna talk to us a little bit about one subtopic in that area. - Hi, my name is Eric Karbowski and I'm a Behavioral Health Educator with MSU Extension that focuses on farm stress with your farm stress tip. We know that farmers are an independent culture and oftentimes are the last ones to reach out for help. But do you ever feel yourself feeling down during the gray sky days of winter? If you do you may be experiencing seasonal, effective disorder. In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during the late fall or early winter and oftentimes go away. And the sun of your days of spring and summer. Some signs and symptoms of people that experience seasonal affective disorder might include, feeling depressed loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, having low energy or feeling tired a lot of the day, experiencing changes in your appetite. It could be weight gain or significant weight loss, feeling sluggish or agitated, having difficulty concentrating or maybe feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty. And so next time you look up at the sky and see the gray clouds and notice yourself feeling a little down knowing that there are many days in the winter months ahead take a deep breath, know that you're not alone. And sometimes it's okay not to feel okay, but also know that there are a lot of supports available to you. And many of those supports and resources can be found on our MSU Extension Farm Stress website, and know that there are a lot of people that are working very hard behind the scenes to support you as you support us. Thank you and have a great day. - And if you'd like to learn more about farm stress either for yourself or someone that you know please join us tomorrow at 11 o'clock in the morning there's a session called mending the stress fence. You can find the Zoom link and the passcode for those in that final schedule that was emailed out to you. So with that, I'm going to stop sharing. I'm actually gonna turn things over to Lyndon Kelley. Some of you may have heard him in the previous session and he's going to introduce our speaker for this afternoon. - [Lyndon] So my name's Lyndon Kelley. I work on extension job in both Indiana and Michigan. And one of the great honors I've had is working with Todd Feenstra. Todd's, is the head of hydrologist and owner of a company called Tritium Consultants out of Northern Indiana. And he's had about the last 12 years of major role in looking at the environmental effects that irrigation has had on natural resources. And in the last two years here, he's pulled together a lot of different groups of people that have had the same goals and has put it under this title of Midwest Water. So Todd's gonna share with us what Midwest Water is and what their goals are and how you may wanna participate. - All right, well, good afternoon, everyone. I appreciate your time this afternoon. I'm always excited to share what we're doing and what we're learning and how we're working with growers. So it's a little bit different tactic in this session. You've been looking at your fields and how much water to put on and scheduling and diseases and nutrients and all of that. And I wanna direct your focus a little bit more off your fields, you know, anytime that work with water and it's so important to ag especially with the crop irrigation. When we look at that, we really need to be very aware of what kind of impact we're having on the environment. And sometimes that's as simple as are we interfering with a neighboring well whether it's residential well or another production well recently, well, I guess not recently anymore 2009 State of Michigan put the MWWA tool in place and that brought the environment to the table. So now, if to be concerned also about the impact that we're having on, not just the aquifers in neighboring wells, but also on streams in fish populations, in the streams to be specific. So we're gonna take a look at that today. The group that you're gonna hear about today Midwest Water Stewards is completely funded by growers. There is no state in federal money in it. There's some commodity groups and individual growers and some ag businesses that support this group. We started in 2009 with some residential wells and we've just expanded ever since then. And so we've gotten a long ways. We've learned an awful lot. So I'm excited to share about what we've got in how we pulled everyone together what we have to share, and show and where we're headed with all of this. So the three words to keep in mind as we go through this today is the data the models and the education part of it. So Midwest Water Stewards, our vision statement is that we wanna be known and we would like to rebrand farmers as good stewards of the environment. That means helping growers be better stewards but that also means being very clear that we're communicating to other people that we are being good stewards of the environment. So with that said, this is a little graphic for our group that really summarizes what we're really about the base of it is getting good solid data in the fields. And that's one of the biggest things that's been missing for a long time. Based on that data then we can build models that represent our understanding. And once we've put that together and we're able to do predictions of impacts then it's time to go ahead and educate everyone, growers, the general public legislators, regulators it's time to share that information. So this is the area that we're focusing on right through here is the Indiana Michigan state line. And so we have a group of growers in Indiana but also a group of growers in Michigan. And you can see roughly this outlines areas of the St Joseph River basin but the other commonality here is that the geology is all the same. And so it's very different than Indianapolis. It's very different than Ohio. It's very different than Grand Rapids or Detroit. So we're really looking at a unique resource in this area with the glacial geology. So the data collection we've done so far is we've got about 130 monitoring wells in our network. And that network again, is all on private farms near almost every one of these wells is located right near and existing irrigation well. So that's the network that we have right now Like I said, we're about 130 right now and we're growing each year. We also take a look at the streams themselves. So the purple triangles represent we actually measure flow physically out in the field, in the streams. And the green crosses represent where we have we've actually installed gauges on the different streams. So this is all active networks. The last thing we do is we measure out in the field at all of these locations, we're measuring how fast is water move between the stream and the underlying aquifer. Now it can move from the aquifer upward into the stream but it can also move from the stream downward into the aquifer. And we're really looking to see how does water move between those two systems, the buried system and the aquifers in the surficial waters. We take all of that information and we put it into building those models. And these are three-dimensional flow models incorporate a lot of the complexity in the areas but then once they're calibrated and verify these models can be very easily used for determining or estimating what depletion impacts could occur from pumping those wells. So let's talk a little bit about the monitoring wells when we do the drilling, I'm on site personally for the wells when they go in. So I'm logging the hole, I'm sampling the sediments I'm verifying what the geology is. We're also locating these wells close to existing irrigation wells because every time that well turns on we're measuring, we're actually measuring the impact of that well, so we have a physical measurement of how much the water level in the aquifer is being drawn down. And then the other purpose of the wells is, the water level data itself. We were looking for seasonal trends. We're looking for trends during the irrigation season outside the irrigation season we're looking at it on an annual basis. And then we're also looking at it on a multi-year basis. A number of the wells that we have, have about 10 years of running record now. So we've got a long period of time that we've been able to monitor. And we're showing those longterm trends we're specifically looking to see, are we finding depleting aquifers? What are the groundwater levels doing? Are they dropping over time? Are they rising over time? And if they do vary in the year how much do they vary by when do we need to be concerned in other words. So to do that, we actually use a little instrument called a pressure transducer that goes inside the well and that measures inside the monitoring well and that measures the water level within that well. We verify the transducer measurements with hand measurements using several different instruments. The accuracy of these are about a eighth of an inch. So they're very, very accurate. The third part of it is we use an ultrasonic flow meter, either strapped on the discharge line to the pivot, you know right off the wellhead or on the pivot riser itself. And so we know exactly what the flow rate is at any time when we're running one of these tests. These are accurate enough to pick up sets of sprinkler heads, opening on a corner arm as it opens and closes, but we can also very easily see when end guns turn on and off. And if you know the pattern I can always tell you which way your pivots even been running around the field. So we've got very accurate measurements and they're long-term. We measure the water level normally about every 15 minutes and all of these transducers. When we're running an irrigation pivot we'll set those down to about one minute intervals. So we can actually do some analysis and testing of that data. So those are the monitoring wells. So this is the fun part where I slowed down a little bit and I start to show you, these are actual data from the monitoring wells in the network. You can see this well dates back to 2013. And it's pretty obvious when you look at the trend here that the overall trend is up. As a matter of fact, we're up almost two feet. And that goes all the way through the fall or the late summer of 2020 on this graph here. So over that seven year period or six year period, we're rising. We see the same trend here. This is near an existing irrigation well, see the same trend of rising water levels. And again, the water levels are up almost two feet. Each one of these major drawdown areas represents an irrigation season. The other thing you'll notice on all of our graphs is we superimposed precipitation from the nearest weather station right on our monitoring wells. That way we can start to correlate rising and falling or response time of the aquifers to when it rains. It helps tremendously in the modeling cause obviously you're not irrigating during the rain. So these wells are going on and off. If they're not to set schedules and they change every single year. So the longer period of record we have the better off we are. This one here is also located right near an irrigation well, but you can see how little of drawdown occurs here. But again what we have is we've got this overall rising trend again in this case, it's almost three feet higher since 2014. If we look at yet another one, we see that same trend of rising in multiple irrigation seasons. The other thing to notice here is that the groundwater levels are dropping before there's an irrigation. You can see that in every single year on his graph the water levels are already trending down. And if you look at the trend at the top of the irrigation cycles, the trend is consistent with what we see going on regionally in the groundwater levels. In other words, the pumping of the irrigation is not what's causing this decline is already started and we're holding those same trends and also know how quickly it recovers. And then also in the fall at the end of the growing season every year we see those rising levels all the way through the winter into the spring with the spring rains. And then typically about May again with the growing season, typically about May, the regional grower levels start to drop again. And that's a consistent trend in all of these graphs. One of the interesting cases that we do is where we have two aquifers where there's a aquifer near the surface, and then there's some sort of a clay layer or an aquitard. And then there's a deeper aquifer. And in several of those locations we've actually screened wells at the same site within 10 feet of each other. One in the deep aquifer and one in the shallow aquifer. In this case here near geologic, Michigan the deeper aquifer actually has a higher water level in it. And so the water is up in the well higher deep than it is in the shallow aquifer meaning that the groundwater is actually pushing up from the deeper aquifer into the lower aquifer. The other interesting thing to look at this here is when we can clearly see the irrigation occurring. We're also looking to see what happens in that upper aquifer. Are they connected to each other and how connected are they. So we'll zoom in, in the next couple of slides here to take a closer look but we've got three irrigation seasons here. We see the same trends that we see annually in all of them. And now let's take a look and see how those two aquifers interact with each other. By zooming on one irrigation season now you can start to see the different pumping cycles. One of the other uses of this data is in your water reporting. This is a very easy way to pick out how many times you ran the pump each year. And so very, very quick and easy to figure that out. What you can see is we've got matching rising and falling in both of them related to rainfall. So the trends are very, very similar to each other but what you can also see here is we're really not producing much of an impact in that upper aquifer, was zooming a little bit closer and you can see definitely here the upper aquifer is not responding to pumping in the deeper aquifer. What that means is that pumping that deeper aquifer is not directly impacting those streams that are connected to that upper aquifer. So that's again, valuable information, very valuable especially since streamflow depletion predictions aren't being measured, they're being predicted with models. So this is real data that can be used to be compared to the models. The other thing about the real data is when we go to build the model and we see these annual trends we better be reproducing these same annual trends in the model or the models actually not representing the area very well at all. So moving forward through here we can take one of those, we can take this individual cycle right here, this pumping cycle. And we can plot the data as a drawdown as the water level drops due to the pumping. And then when the pump shuts off the water level recovers. And we'll take that data and we'll put that into some analysis software, we have called (indistinct) and we will sell for these values down here of the aquifer. Those values are what give us the ability to predict the drawdown at different distances from the well at different pumping rates in different pumping times how long we actually pump them. So I'm gonna stop right there cause I've been talking really fast. Are there any questions that I need to address at this point? - [Eric] I don't have any of Q and A, I just have a couple of, I'm not sure if they're comments but I'll just read them from the chat here. Someone is just saying Great Lakes St. Lawrence River basin water compact question Mark and then just (indistinct) dash profits town. I don't know if that means anything to you. - Yes, a lot of this has done in response to the Great Lakes compact. The compact is saying, you've got to be more aware of how much water you're withdrawing from the base and where's that water going and what are the impacts on the environment specifically the surface waters. So the MWWA itself came out of that in the 2000 law in the increased regulation on high-capacity wells is a part of that. So this is done in direct response to that. So let me talk a little bit about some of the data and why we would need multiple years. In this case, the next two slides are the exact same field. If you were to look at this graph of this aquifer and the water level trend, you'd say it was rising in the spring and the pumping decrease the water levels and then it rose back again in fall. Well, what we see in the next year is it's the same field, the same crop but what we see is even those there's the irrigation going on, the water levels are rising during the irrigation. What that tells us is that we've got the irrigation is super imposed on regional groundwater levels. Meaning if regionally, the groundwater levels are rising the irrigation, as we've observed it is not gonna reverse that trend. It's not gonna level it off and it's not gonna deplete the aquifers. So that's a great example to see. And again, you wouldn't know that unless we measure that. In this case here. Yes. - [Eric] I do have one question now. How did the annual precipitation compared to the long-term average during the monitoring period? - The long-term average is typically been done as a 30 year average. The problem is since 1920 we are now receiving almost five inches more of rain per year. And there may be some year to year changes up and down in that. But the overall trend is definitely increased rainfall since the twenties. So to take an average, my opinion is not very good if we're gonna do a 30 year, which is what's often done. If we look at the five-year that flattens it out more. And so that's a better average but we're taking our data from the precept. We actually use the real precipitation data as measured at the weather stations. And that's what we're applying in the model as we vary the recharge. So overall not very well. And so what we're learning is how important the temporal changes are, whether it's increases or decreases in recharge due to precipitation, whether it's snowfall what are the lake levels doing. Are we accounting for return flow from the irrigation and how many pumping cycles do we have? What are the duration? All those temporal things have a huge impact. So I see another question here. Are there any monitoring concerns of river levels and areas? Yes, these are all dedicated to that. That is the primary concern. We've got watersheds that we're being told are stressed. And so we're investigating to see if we can measure depletion, see what those trends are. And we're trying to put real hard numbers on how does water move through the aquifers and how well connected are the streams where are the source series the recharge areas, where the discharge areas that was the incentive to do all of this work. So in this case, we've got cherry field. And again you can see overall long-term rising water levels. He's changed how he runs his pumps each year due to rainfall in different crop type but we still see those same seasonal patterns again. The other thing that we look at is we're looking at the streams themselves. So we're measuring the amount of flow in the streams but we're also measuring the conductivity of those streambeds. So how much water is there already? How does that match up with the regression analysis that was used to put the model together, the MWWA and what's behind the MWWA how does that match up in real life? What are the changes downstream and upstream and then how does that water get into or out of that stream through the streambed itself. If you can imagine water flowing over clay is gonna, a very little of that is gonna make it down into the aquifer or vice versa. But if you've got very coarse sediments or very conductive sediments, they may be very, very well-connected. So it's a function of how close are the wells to the streams. How conductive is the aquifer? Is there a clay layer that separates the aquifer from the streambed and what is the streambed conductivity itself? So there's a lot that goes into it. This is one, especially again in a temporal situation where you've got wells on and off and you've got seasonal changes. You've got all these other things going on. Those streambed materials become very important because they can actually delay responses or eliminate responses from pumping to the streams. So we use three different meters. We're testing them. The global water meter is the cheapest in that could be used for citizen science, but it's the least accurate. The highest end we use is the flow tracker. That one is very accurate. USDA studies have shown that even with the best of instrumentation, the accuracy of how much water is flowing through that creek at any time when we measure it is about seven percent because there's so many other variables that go into that. So that's another interesting number to put in the back of your mind. So these are all USGS standards and equipment that's been approved by the USGS with the exception of the global water meter. But again, the primary use for that is as a rough check or for citizen science. And this is what the stream levels look like. So this is the actual stream level, not discharge. And you can see the same pattern in the streams that we're seeing in the groundwater levels. We're seeing this overall rising trend since about 2012 which was when the last drought was in this area. So there are lows in the summer but that's to be expected, higher temperatures higher ETS, higher potentially evaporation, transpiration. We've got the growing season going on. So things obviously changed dramatically during that period. So it's not a surprise that those levels go down but they're also very responsive to precipitation events and extreme examples. The heavy rain here, we can almost always correlate major spikes immediately with precipitation. And we've got another one here over at the Northern end of St. Joe County showing the same thing, we're showing the general trends of rising stage in the streams themselves. I see this LA Milpa question has come up again. So I'm gonna assume that that's just somebody spamming with advertising. So if we continue on with the streams I'm showing it to you again, same thing in this one is a little bit different because the water levels are either stable or actually even slightly lower. So we're looking at that one but also it's got a much shorter period of record also. So moving out from the data collection one of my favorite parts of what we do with Midwest Water is the educational part. So this year we hosted two field events. So the equipment and the wells that I showed you we will take growers and such out into the fields and we invite a wide variety of different people. We put the hands-on, we give them our equipment and we let them learn with it. And so it's a hands-on experience. Some of the people that have come have never been in a farm field before. So that was a big eye-opener for me but it's a great way to get a lot of people to interact with each other. Regulators, growers, politicians the general public saw conservation districts extension people, you name it commodity groups, agro businesses. They're all showing up to see what we do how we do it because aquifers and groundwater are a big mystery to lot of people still. And so we mix and mingle everybody together. We will actually take and run the pivot and actually let them measure the monitoring well and the dropping groundwater levels for themselves. The other thing that we do is we hook the transducer up. So it's live and we'll let them watch right on the screen. They'll see the ground where level drop when the pump turns on. We'll run it for 30 minutes or so, and shut it off. And they'll watch the water level will actually recover in the well live on the computer screen. So it's a phenomenal teaching tool. It's a phenomenal opportunity to come out and see and bring some reality some visuals to what we talk about with soils in aquifers and how impacts are measured and what the impacts are like. One of the big surprises to everybody is that when we run the wells, they almost always recover in the same amount of time that we pump. So if we run for 30 minutes, it'll be fully recovered within 30 minutes of shutting the pump off. And we see that over and over and over and over again, very, very resilient, very, very productive aquifers in this area here. So we take them into the streams. We let them use our equipment. Everybody likes to play with the sediments that we click take out of the stream and out of the aquifer. So it's always fun to watch growers compare fields, and hey I got better aquifer than you do. And I like my sand better than yours. And that's always kind of fun to listen to. The best part of the whole day is we feed everybody and the reason I like that better than any other part of the day is that's when I get to walk around and I get to listen to people talking about and what their reactions are to what they've seen and how they interpret it and how they see it and what their understanding is. And it's just fun to listen to. And it's great to put people on the same playing field so to speak at the same level where they're all communicating directly with each other about what they're learning. So that's always a great, great event. We did two last year. I think we're gonna do at least six this year because they were so popular. The last portion that I wanted to talk about was what do we do with all this. And I've only got two slides on this. I just have a couple points. I wanna make sure that I pass along and I really emphasize with you. We collect the data so that we understand the area. We wanna know the trends. We wanna know the impacts we wanna measure. We wanna actually measure what we see in the field and that helps us build our concept of what's out there. That concept of how things interact and move in the field is reflected then in the model. So the data is what we use to build our models. Now, a model can also be used to investigate an area. I've got no qualms with that, but if we're gonna start to regulate based on a model we wanna make sure that the models are matching what we see in the field and what we, how we conceive the geology to be in the field from well arcs, from drilling, from aquifer testing from groundwater measurements, from geologic cross-section all of it that goes into the groundwater models. The models that we're talking about in particular are used to estimate what the depletion is from crop irrigation. That is what a compact in the MWWA has designed to look at. The MWWA is the Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment. But what that is, is you're looking to see how much water comes out of the stream because of groundwater depletion or groundwater extraction used for irrigation. And the end goal here is that it's gotta be reasonable and it has to be representative or it's not really beneficial to us. So in yellow is the point that I want you to remember very strongly as we get into more conflicts that are coming either from regulation or from actual interference between wells. These models are all about building trust. You have to trust that the model represents the area because if the model tells you you're having a negative impact, and you're asked to make a change we need to know that that model is correct or at least reasonable, you know, can be conservative, that's totally fine. That's how we build ours as well but it has to be a reasonable and it has to represent what is out in that field. And if we can't get to a model that we agree on that we all agree matches what's out there. Then we're gonna have a very difficult time communicating with each other. And trust is gonna be a big, big issue. So that's very important. These models are all about trust. The two D analytical calculators are what's built into MWWA system. And so this is the system overall. If you go to their website, this is what you look into. This is the geology that's embedded in their tool it's a single layer. All and the flow is all, almost all horizontal but it's a single layer. There's a thin layer of streambeds sediment and the well is directly and water levels here are directly connected between the stream and the aquifer. So when this well turns on it will draw water from that stream. This is the model that's built into MWWA. Down here in the lower left is the geologic cross sections drawn from real well logs in Cass County. This is the geology that I see, 80, 90% of the time in the field. We will have a deeper aquifer and then we'll have an aquitard and then we'll have an upper aquifer. The question is how extensive are those aquitards the brown material. Where are the well screened? Are they screened in the deeper aquifer are they screened in the upper aquifer? Where are the water levels in the aquifer? Are they connected to the stream or not connected to the stream? Those are all the real data that we're looking for to help adjust the model, if need be or to verify the model. And that's just a simple two-dimensional calculation. It's typically done with a little piece of software program. It can be done in an Excel spreadsheet, and it's a direct impact of the well on the stream itself. - [Eric] Todd. - Yes, sir. - [Eric] Got one question here. Are there any models that are better than others? - I could go. It really would be an entire another presentation. The overall answer to that, that I will give is this. The model must represent reasonably the area that's being modeled. And once you build it, that model the way to tell that reasonableness and that representativeness that model must reflect the geology you see in the well logs. And it must reflect both the water levels and the patterns in the groundwater levels, but also the impacts that we are measuring at the pumping wells. That's the way to tell there's no good one solid good model, all the models are wrong. Some are just closer to reality than others but all of them are wrong. And so we wanna get to a model that's conservative, that's protective, but that also reasonably represents the area. The trend is and it's well-documented in the literature. The trend is there's usually two groups of people. One group of people wants to use the model to increase regulation. The other group of people wants to use the model to say that we can use the water and that it's not having as detrimental of an impact as everyone may think. Those are typically the two camps that break out. The data is critically important in modeling the models must match the data. The other type of modeling other than two dimensional is what I was referring to in the models that we built. They're three-dimensional, this is a fence diagram. It's basically a three-dimensional depiction of the geology. And then in the software, we recreate that in the software. And so now we're measuring the flow, not just laterally not just with an Excel spreadsheet we're able to put in changes like changing rainfall. We're able to put return flowing. We're able to change aquifer conductivities across the whole area or storage in the aquifers. We're able to train change the streams where are our lakes where are our wetlands how does precipitation change over the years? Can we turn pumps on and off and we can put as many wells in as we want to we can do a lot of good simulations with those. So those are basically the two types of models I wanted you to be aware of. One is the two dimensional analytical and this is a three-dimensional flow model. This one looks more at the water balance rather than a direct impact. So having said all that, that's it. That's (indistinct) kind of models. I don't really wanna go any deeper into that. It won't allow with the timeframe, but the statement at the bottom here is very, very important. If the model doesn't match the data, the model is the thing that has the problems it's not the data, the data is the data. And so we've got to do a good job of matching the model to the data before we know that we're actually able to use that model to do future predictions. So it's critically, critically important. And there are a lot of standards set of how close the data match has to be and what defines reasonable or not reasonable. And a lot of times that's derived from the purpose of the model, but it's also derived from the accuracies in how accurate can we get and should we be getting. So but the data, the models gotta match that data. And if it doesn't the models the problem the problem is not with the data. So with that, I'll take any questions. If there are any, and then I will play a short video that we just created as part of the public education. So what I'll do is I'll play the video and while that's playing I'll scroll through some of the questions that I see here. Let me see. There we go. - Tech and conserve. - [Instructor] You never really think about water, but it's essential to everyone for drinking, cooking, washing recreation on the weekends and growing things. And water is especially important to our local farmers. When it doesn't rain, they have to irrigate and using the right amount of water conserves the resource provides the food and fuel we consume and helps farmers to make a living. - The meaning of stewardship to me is that we are able to make it a living from the land and pass it down in as good a shape or better than we found it. - I think it's very important that we protect and conserve our natural resources our water, our soils, our air. I think this is a morally the correct thing to do. And not only that, it's just as good business for a farmer. That's how we are living is through the use of those resources. - This is a family business. 97% of farms are still family owned. A lot of people don't see that they see big machinery, big farms, big fields and they automatically assume it's corporate farms. - I think producers are really interested. They're invested in their community, not only because that's part of their community but it's their homes and their livings that we're working with when we're looking at irrigation. - We live right over here. This is where we live, where we raise our children. And now for us a granddaughter or a community we're in this together. (upbeat music) - [Instructor] You know, we rely on apps every day to monitor our health and spending habits so we can make better decisions. Local farmers do the same thing. They can rely on verified scientific data from aquifers and streambeds instead of prediction models to adjust and improve their irrigation. Todd Feenstra, from Midwest Water Stewards explains more. - I'm excited that the farmers themselves are the ones that have paid for and invested in this whole project. The network has gotten bigger every single year. We've added growers every single year. They've learned a ton. They're changing how they farm. They're changing some of their irrigation practices and they're learning. - We need to put on the right amount of water for our crops, without hurting the environment. We can't afford to put more water on than we need. And hat's expensive, takes diesel fuel or electricity one or the other. (upbeat music) - [Instructor] Overregulation regarding water use is already hurting our local family farmers. Which is surprising because only 8% of farms in Michigan and 6% of farms in Indiana are irrigated. And local groundwater and surface water levels have actually been rising since 2013 Midwest Water Stewards collaborates with farmers ag business, environmental groups, politicians and others to collect and utilize groundwater data. - Water is a political thing. We want a data and science to govern a better way of estimating groundwater. We have a long way to go to get a lot of the public to see the truth behind how water works. - We've got to be able to trust the regulators that they're using science and data, and it's verifiable. They also have to trust that we have the best interest at heart in using and managing the resource. - And it's important that we can pull together people from multiple sectors that are interested in protecting the water resource and moving this whole state forward. - [Instructor] Water is essential to everyone and it's essential everyone works together to promote water stewardship. To learn more and get involved visit midwestwaterstewards.com today. - So I am actually pretty excited to have been able to share that. That's the first time we've presented that video and that is part of our educational outreach. There is a huge lack in and a huge deficiency in understanding of how groundwater behaves and how groundwater and surface water interact with each other. There's also a huge misunderstanding of what are the impacts of pumping irrigation wells. And we are working very, very hard to both monitor that do sound and solid modeling and do good reasonable representative predictions of that also. And now it's been a neat shift in this past year. Now it's time to start really sharing that in answering and engaging in discussions with others to improve our technology improve how we do things. We're still looking for the network to expand. We are not looking to, we're still looking for this to be privately funded as well. These are farmers who are engaged with their community who are concerned about the environment, who are take pride in what they do and who are being good stewards of both (indistinct) and the water resources that they have to use or get to use or are blessed to use. So it's a very interesting and a fun project. It's a great group of people. And if I can find it I'll put my slide back up here with my with the contact information for the website is all on here. And there's a little QR code and whatnot and there's a lot of great resources on the website. I'm happy to answer any questions that anybody has and also happy to, you know answering questions you may find later from the website or any questions you may have from me. So with that, Eric, I am finished unless there's something else I need to cover. - [Eric] Great, thanks Todd. So before we get into do have a few questions that I'll pose to you and before we get to that, let me just let everyone know. We do have a survey that I'm gonna go ahead and post into the chat box here. That's a hoc link. We're asking everyone to give us some feedback on the sessions on the week as a whole on this particular session. And then at the end of that survey those of you who are seeking CCA or RUP credits there'll be an opportunity to do that. So you can either click on that hoc link or copy and paste it into a web browser. So Todd, I've got just a couple things from the both the chat and the Q and A. So I'm gonna try to paraphrase them as much as I can. What are the goals for the project are they sustain, are they more environmental sustainable, sustainability? Are they more economic? Both of which matter most in terms of constituents, consumers, communities. And then also who's leading the agenda which I think you've already kind of talked about that but you just talked about maybe some of the goals. - Well, the goals and the vision of this group are very, very simple. We need to do both. We need to go ahead and use resources in a manner that we're being good stewards of it. We're not burning the resource up. We're not abusing the natural resources. We're not harming the environment. And at the same time, the resources there and it can and should be used. It's an amazing resource that's here. It's like no other in the world. Great soils, great glacial geology, heavy precipitation very different than any other area in the country. And so to ignore that that's there and to not use that I think would be a mistake. So like it or not, the economics of it are there. And it is a valuable resource to be used. But in the same token there's a lot of misunderstandings about growers. And what happens when high-capacity wells are pumped the message that I would like to leave and that we are promoting and that we are making sure people understand. I've worked with farmers for a long time. These are people you can do handshake you can do business with them. You know, you don't need a contract. That's the mentality. They live on this land and they rely on the aquifers. If they were to burn up the aquifer or burn up the stream that shoots them in the foot and it destroys their reputation. It destroys their ability to do business. And for a lot of them it goes contrary to their belief system. And so what I have found almost without exception is that farmers are good stewards. They are very concerned about the environment but there hasn't been much work done to monitor and to show that and there's been even less work done to communicate that. And that's what we're hoping to change. We want a good balance between the two. - [Eric] Okay, we're gonna run out of time, but let me do one more. And then I guess for those of you who are putting questions into the chat and the Q and A if we don't get to your question I'm just gonna ask you to write down Todd's contact information and contact him directly. Oh, let's see here, let me end with one more. How do we ID or identify recharge areas and protect them from redevelopments many mindsets in ag is not developed land which really is changed from pre-settlement timeframe. - I'll just handle the first part of that question. How do we ID the recharge areas cause that one's a pretty valid point. We're looking at groundwater flow directions to see where is the groundwater flow emanating from. We're looking for what would be a topographical high in the groundwater levels not the land surface necessarily. In the other way to identify those recharge areas is soil types. A lot of times we're looking for stream headwater. If we're looking for high, topographic high and groundwater levels but we're also looking for areas where the fields are not what a grower would call heavy. They're not clay rich or silty rich where we have sandy soils that can absorb a lot of water pretty quickly during the rainfall. - [Eric] Okay. I guess maybe one last question. Maybe I'll put a couple of things together. So we're talking more about the legality permitting, things like that. So I'm just gonna sort of lump a few questions together. Who makes the final decision about the use of the resources, who does the water belong to? You can talk about that in both of the states that we're kind of looking at here. And then how do you see water withdrawal permits changing in the next five years? - The water is legally in the Midwest here the water is a public resource. It belongs to everyone. And so very similar to river or lake water and those groundwater is the same thing. It's considered a resource that's available to everyone. There are a number of laws that govern it. A lot of them are very old and haven't been tested because a lot of what we're dealing with right now is new concept, relatively new. So I would say, you know, one of the things to keep in mind is it's a water balance issue and there's a water cycle. This water is not just sitting there. It's not like an oil deposit or a coal deposit. It's constantly moving. And so it is a cycle. And so where does the rain come from and where does the discharge in the streams flow to. Who owns the water is a complicated question unless you look at it as it's basically a community owner it's owned by everybody. And so what happens then is we've got to take care of it on behalf of everybody. So we need to use it in a way that doesn't impact our neighbors and doesn't impact the environment. You know, negative impacts on the environment. As far as where do I see things going in the next five years. I see that this is gonna be much harder. I think that getting a permit essentially is what this is or registration if you will. Getting that is getting gonna be much harder I'm dealing with a lot more clients that are having to produce more data to show that, you know, there's not impacts because some of the course screening tools are showing that there's areas that should be looked at more closely. And it benefits us to do the additional research to narrow the model and improve the model in those areas. I don't see regulation decreasing ever. I see public awareness increasing. And I just see that the conflicts between both I would say those that are big protectors of the environment and come between those that want to use some of the environmental resources. The black and white of it is I see that conflict growing over time and not ending. - [Eric] Great, thank you very much, Todd, for coming sharing a little bit about what you guys have been working on. Again, for those who have more questions for Todd, feel free to take us screenshots or you don't have to put it back up Todd, but now the information that Todd, had up above his contact information. We're gonna shut the session down in about 20 seconds or so. So again, go ahead and take a screenshot of his information if you need to, if you need to click on the link for the survey, please do that. And if you wanna join us for our last session in water management track, and Lyndon Kelley, we'll be back talking about a different aspect on irrigation right at the top of the hour at three o'clock. So we'll see you back. - Eric, thank you for hosting and giving me the chance to speak on this. I appreciate it. - [Eric] Yep, definitely, thank you, Todd. Thanks for coming. - [Lyndon] Thanks for Todd. Todd, I thought you handled all the questions and the presentations very well. (laughs) - It was interesting. I think you got a couple ad-ons.