Geography. (Abstracts-2003 Annual Meetings)

Michigan Academician, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview
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Geography. (Abstracts-2003 Annual Meetings)


Groundwater Law: The Challenge of Allocating an Unseen Resource. Diane O'Connell, Schoolcraft College, Geography Department, 18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia, MI 48152-2696

The hydrologic cycle describes the continual movement of water from one geographic location to another. This fluid nature of water, along with the importance of water to sustain life, complicates the legal system of water rights. Water rights are further complicated by the traditional legal separation of the components of the hydrologic cycle; groundwater and surface water are classified as separate resources with different legal rules. Groundwater allocation often presents a more challenging situation than sufface water allocation because the subsurface is rarely completely understood and mapped. Groundwater allocation may be determined in courts using common law doctrines or be dictated by state statutes. Four traditional groundwater doctrines ate absolute ownership, reasonable use, correlative rights, and prior appropriation. States often modify these requirements with permit statutes and administrative rules. As a result of an often fractured legal approach, groundwater allocation strategies are often not a comprehensive package designed to protect both the quantity and quality of groundwater. Allocation strategies should incorporate groundwater use, groundwater quality, along with an understanding of both local and regional hydrogeology. Allocation decisions should also integrate the management of surface water and groundwater. Groundwater is currently used by approximately half of the U.S. population; however, the management and protection of this valuable resource is rarely guided by comprehensive legislation.

How Facts are Sometimes Ignored in Recent Environmental Debates: The Case of "Slant Drilling" under the Great Lakes. Robert V. Brady, Central Michigan University, Geography Department, Mount Pleasant, Ml 48859

The issue of "slant drilling" under the Great Lakes became a political football over the last few years in Michigan. The petroleum industry had long been aware that reservoirs of petroleum and natural gas likely existed beneath some of the Great Lakes. Though Canada has allowed production of natural gas from off-shore rigs in Lake Erie for several decades, no effort was made to drill under the Lakes on the United States side of the border until about twenty five years ago. Between the late 1970s and late 1 990s, thirteen attempts were made to "slant drill" beneath Lakes Michigan and Huron, resulting in seven producing wells. Then in 1998 a Michigan petroleum company applied to the state for several more leases for petroleum and/or natural gas targets beneath Lake Michigan and Saginaw Bay. The new wells were to be drilled at an angle from shore. However, this time there was a firestorm of controversy, with some environmental groups conjuring up images of Great Lakes shorelines being devastated by oil spills. U ltimately, "slant drilling" under the Great Lakes was banned by the state. Since a careful review of the facts reveals that the proposed drilling would pose no credible threat to the Great Lakes, the banning of such drilling smacks of NIMBY-ism (Not In My Back Yard-ism).

Agriculture Amidst Prosperity: A Case Study of Jiangsu Province in the Reform Era. Gregory Veeck, Western Michigan University, Geography Department, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Conditions within China's agricultural sector are radically different from those existing on the eve of reform in 1977. Taken together, the adjusted gross output value of field agriculture, husbandry, aquaculture, and forestry increased 3.85 times (1978- 2000). Rural incomes increased 4.5 fold for the same period, not only due to success in agriculture but also due to rural industrialization. For Jiangsu, the record is even more remarkable. The gross output value for agricultural products increased five-fold from 1977 to 2000, but per capita rural income increased by more than twenty times (23.

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