Using water for irrigation from shared pond #539166 - Ask Extension


Using water for irrigation from shared pond #539166

Asked December 16, 2018, 3:49 PM EST

I have recently purchased a property, there are two ponds on the property. I am starting a 1.5 acre market garden style farm and I need an irrigation source. One pond is small, less than 1/8 acre and far away from where I am planning to grow. It is also shallow and may have to be dredged. The other pond is about 1 acre but I only own about 60-70% of the pond. My question is am I allowed to use the water from a shared pond for irrigation purposes. Also what is the frequency and type of testing I need to do to use pond water for irrigation. Thank you.

Oakland County Michigan

Expert Response

I am checking on the legalities of using a shared static body of water. I am not sure if they are different than using a river. Meanwhile, I need a bit more information to be able to answer you fully. Is your neighbor also intending to use the pond for irrigation? How deep is this pond? How is the pond recharged, spring fed or surface run-off? If surface fed, where is the water coming from, other farmed fields? If so, what are the crops on those fields? If the pond is recharged using surface water, you will need to be cautious as to where that water comes from and what is done to the land that drains into the pond. Ponds can become contaminated with certain fungi and you could irrigate that fungi onto your plants.

A water test is required to meet food safety guidelines if you meet a certain sales level. Go to to see if you are required to test. Look under "exemptions". A test for irrigation suitability is also a good idea. That can be obtained from

Ron Goldy

Ron Goldy Replied December 18, 2018, 8:45 AM EST

I got a response from my water use colleague, Lyndon Kelly. He sent me Michigan's current water use law that I can forward to you if you send me your email address. I don't see that I can attach it here. Basically the law states you cannot impair your neighbors use of the water. If they use the pond in any capacity (swimming, irrigation, livestock, etc.) you cannot take so much water that it impairs their continued use. If you end up using over 70 gallons a minute you will also have to register your use.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Ron Goldy Replied December 19, 2018, 11:01 AM EST
Thank you for the response, the information is very helpful. In answer to your first questions, no my neighbor will not be using the pond for irrigation just swimming and other activities which you covered in the second response. I am not sure of the depth of the pond and I am fairly sure it is spring fed. If you could send any more information to that would be great. Thanks again!!                                      
The Question Asker Replied December 19, 2018, 12:29 PM EST
Let me know if you need more help
Ron Goldy Replied December 19, 2018, 12:50 PM EST

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