Water Wars


| 6/5/2014 2:07:00 PM


Tags: Water, Irrigation, Farmers, Wells, Water Supply, Lois Hoffman,

Country Moon

There is a war going on in Michigan and other parts of the Midwest, much like the old range wars when settlers disputed over land rights in the old west. Except this time the war is over water. Part of the problem is that the ground water table has dropped up to 40 feet in some areas of Michigan, most noticeably in the thumb area. But the war itself is between large farming operations who irrigate and homeowners who live next to them.

There is no easy solution to this problem. In the last 10 years Michigan has seen a dramatic increase in farmers who irrigate and also in people moving to rural areas who don’t understand farming. The one clear fact is that there is only so much water to go around. Forty percent who rely on well water have been impacted by drought to some degree.

We’re not talking the "Mom and Pop" farms. Instead, most present farming operations are large and work hundreds, if not thousands, of acres. The prices of their seed, fertilizer and other expenses have increased just like they have for other businesses. The only way to increase profit is to maximize the amount of crop they harvest per acre and supplying extra water is a good way to achieve this goal.

However, irrigation systems and maintenance on them is anything but cheap. Thus, the old adage that you have to spend money to make money rings true so the installation of irrigation equipment is justified and on the rise.

On the other side of the coin many people are discovering the joys of country living and moving to rural areas from the cities. What many of them don’t realize is that if they choose to locate in the country near a large farm it is like locating next to an industry. Agricultural wells may be drilled up to 100 feet deeper than most residential wells and they have extreme pumping capacity. Some systems can pump 1,500 gallons of water out of the ground per minute for many hours a day.




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