State house approves irrigation bill

State Rep. Aaron Miller’s plan to streamline the approval process for farmers who use irrigation to grow crops was approved Thursday by the Michigan House.

Miller said the process currently used by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to review water-well applications is inefficient and broken, costing crop farmers time and money.

He said local farmers are caught up in bureaucratic red tape due to flaws in the water-withdrawal assessment tool the DEQ currently uses.

Under the plan laid out in House Bill 5638, the DEQ would have 20 working days to review alternative water-withdrawal applications. Various rules would then apply, depending on the type of watershed that contains the potential well.

The rules do not apply to municipal water systems or bottled water companies, which fall under different regulations.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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