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Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program

The Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program (MGSP) is a cooperative effort designed to reduce the risks of groundwater contamination associated with the use of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers.  The MGSP is voluntary, locally driven, and designed to address the concerns of individuals by maintaining a focus on the financial and technical constraints which drive real-world decisions.  The program is funded through fees that are assessed on sales of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers.
To provide information and assessment tools for pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer users which help them identify risks to groundwater associated with their pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer use practices and to coordinate local, state, and federal resources to help individuals reduce those risks.
Program Focus and Funding

The Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program is relatively narrow in focus addressing only risks to groundwater associated with pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer use. However, it has a wide scope and addresses the many uses of these materials, including agricultural, turfgrass, and household uses.

Funds for the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program come from industry-supported pesticide and fertilizer registration and tonnage fees.  Pesticide registration fees are paid for by companies which register both specialty (homeowner) and wide-area (agricultural, right of way, golf course, etc.) pesticides for use in Michigan.  

Programs available to homeowners and business include:

  • Home*A*Syst
  • Crop*A*Syst
  • The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP)


Home *A* Syst

Groundwater is a limited resource. Its contamination can occur in several ways:

  • Contaminants moving down well casings of unused or unusable wells.
  • Excess or poorly timed use of yard and garden fertilizers and pesticides, leading to groundwater or surface water contamination. 
  • Poorly maintained septic systems.
  • Improper disposal of wastes. 

Home*A*Syst helps you protect your drinking water, the environment, your health, and the health of your family.   

Participation will help you: 

  • Protect your drinking water well. 
  • Learn the basics about your home septic system. 
  • Reduce runoff which may harm lakes and streams. 
  • Gain information on the health and environmental impact of your yard  and gardening activities. 
  • Lower risks from hazardous household products. 
  • Safely manage liquid, fuels and their storage (gas, fuel oil, kerosene). 


The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP)

The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) is a voluntary, proactive program designed to prevent pollution and reduce environmental risks on golf properties, sports fields, parks, school grounds, and lawn care companies. The program began in 1998 and represents a unique partnership between the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan State University, and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation. Over 300 properties have participated in the program and over 65 are certified. Certification requires compliance with environmental laws outlined in the program and elevated protection of natural resources.

To learn more about the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program go to: www.mtesp.org.


Drinking-Water Well Screenings Information and Events Schedule

The Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program and the Michigan Department of Agriculture Groundwater Monitoring Program sponsor domestic well water screenings for several reasons. The screenings are a service to private well owners that they can use to evaluate their exposure to nitrate, nitrite, and atrazine.

The screenings also serve an educational purpose. Well owners taking part in a sample screening learn about local and state groups working to protect groundwater, and they learn about potential sources of groundwater contamination.

For general information on water screenings, contact your local Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program Technician at your local Conservation District or MSU Extension office.



Crop A Syst will assist you to develop and implement a management plan that prevents contamination of groundwater and surface water resources and maintains economic crop production.  Your plan will be in conformance with applicable Michigan-Right-to-Farm guidelines and in compliance with applicable state and federal environmental regulations.

Nutrients used in agricultural production come from chemical fertilizers and natural sources such as manure, legumes and biosolids (sewage sludge).  All nutrients, whether synthetic or naturally occurring, can become mixed with surface water or groundwater by natural processes such as runoff and leaching.  Nitrate contamination of groundwater and phosphorus contamination of surface water can be problems in Michigan.  Crop*A*Syst will assess your current nutrient management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce nutrient losses to the environment.

Virtually all crops produced in Michigan may be threatened by serious pest problems-- weeds, insects and disease-producing organisms.  Producers are encouraged to adopt pest management practices that achieve the desired commodity quality and yield while minimizing any adverse effects on non-target organisms, humans, and soil and water resources.  Crop*A*Syst will assess your current pest management practices and identify alternative management practices that, when implemented, will reduce negative impacts to the environment.

Crop*A*Syst is designed to coordinate the pollution prevention efforts of the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program (MGSP) and the Cropping System of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).  Crop*A*Syst focuses on management practice in the field, whereas Farm*A*Syst focuses on activities at the farm headquarters, such as agricultural chemical storage, mixing and loading; water well construction and management, and other activities.

Producers who complete the Crop*A*Syst assessment will be able to determine what management and recordkeeping changes (if any) will be needed for their cropping system to be environmentally assured through MAEAP.  Once a producer develops and implements a plan to address the risks indicated by the Crop*A*Syst assessment, he/she can contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to request Cropping System verification. An MDA inspector will schedule a site visit to complete the verification process.  P.A. 451, Part 82, ensures the confidentiality of the producer information you provide to the MDA for system verification.  Any information connected with the development, implementation or verification of a conservation plan or conservation practice is confidential.

As the owner of a MAEAP-verified cropping system, you will be eligible for various incentives and can enjoy “good-faith-effort” environmental liability protection, if an agricultural pollution emergency ever occurs in your fields.

Similar incentives are available for producers who have environmentally assured their Livestock and Farmstead Systems.  Contact your local Conservation District,  MSU Extension or NRCS representative for a list of currently available incentives and information on how to get started.


Stewardship Practices

A number of stewardship practices are available which will help to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.  Click here to review some of the practices.  For more information contact your local Conservation District or Michigan State University Extension Office.
Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program Summary Report
2007 - 2008
MGSP is pleased to announce that two new farms were verified under the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program in 2008. Mr. Max Benne received all three of the MAEAP verifications:  farmstead, cropping, and livestock. The second verified producer under the cropping system is Gerald Ross. Gerald is also working on his farmstead verification. Congratulations to these producers!
Fourteen producers took the opportunity to received an *Assist* for the Groundwater program this past year. Five were Farm*A*Systs, four were Small Farm*A*Systs, four were Crop * A*Systs and one was a Livestock*A*Syst. Participants implemented 58 risk reduction practices. Improvements in the management of pesticides including pesticide storage, security, mixing procedures, containment and disposal of containers have made our drinking water and surface water safer from possible contamination.
Despite the state's financial difficulties and having fewer cost share dollars for this program,  we did close four wells, made three 'green payments' for MAEAP verification, and cost shared one pesticide containment building liner.  The free well water testing for nitrates, nitrites, and triazine pesticides had a low turnout this year (32 samples). No hits were detected for any of the tested contaminates in Chippewa County.
Eighteen persons attended the Composting Workshop for "Farmers and Backyard Gardeners." Thanks again to Tom Gage for allowing us to come to his farm to see his operation and learn from his experience.
The Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program is offering a new Assist tool call Greenhouse*A*Syst. This tool was developed to assist greenhouse owners with the unique challenges faced in growing crops in a greenhouse. I am looking forward to a productive year in 08-09.
This page last updated on 6/8/2017.

2847 Ashmun St. | Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783 | (906) 635-1278

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