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Last week, nearly 500,000 people lost access to clean water for drinking and bathing due to a toxic algae bloom that occurred around the City of Toledo’s drinking water intake. The bloom was likely caused by excessive amounts of phosphorus (and perhaps other nutrients) in the Western Lake Erie Basin.
Although the immediate crisis in the city of Toledo has passed, the threat to drinking water supplies in Toledo and other Lake Erie communities has not. Lake Erie supplies water for 11 million people who live near the lake.
Watershed councils and environmental groups, including HRWC, have been working for years to reduce nutrients, like phosphorus, in our watersheds. It is these nutrients – from agricultural practices, lawn fertilizers, wastewater treatment plants, and polluted runoff from pavement – that are a chief cause of the algae blooms. The changing climate and alterations in invasive mussel populations also contribute to the algae blooms. On top of it all, our lakes also suffer from the cycling of nutrients deposited in the lake from years past.
Here in the Huron River watershed, HRWC and municipalities along the river have made major investments to reduce our nutrient inputs such as stronger soil erosion controls, phosphorus and buffer ordinances, streambank restoration, and wetlands and natural area protection and construction to hold and infiltrate water. As a result phosphorus levels in the middle section of the watershed entering Ford Lake have been reduced substantially. While the lakes still have occasional algae blooms, the length and size has been reduced.
Overall, the phosphorus load contributed by the Huron River watershed to Lake Erie pales in comparison to the massive load from the heavily agricultural Maumee River watershed. In response to this heavy agricultural input, the International Joint Commission has called for better nutrient management and soil erosion controls by agriculture including a ban on winter manure application. They also recommend continued reduction of urban sources and wetland restoration. Last week, a New York Times editorial called for similar action.
Nutrient pollution is a clear danger not only to drinking water, but to efforts to develop a “blue economy” for the Great Lakes, including HRWC’s RiverUp program to promote the river as a recreational, economic, and cultural resource. This new economic future cannot stand with national headlines declaring Great Lakes water unsafe to drink.
Until we stop polluting our lakes and rivers, our economy, drinking water and way of life are in jeopardy. To learn more about what you can do to reduce your impact on the Huron River Watershed and Lake Erie downstream, take a look at our tips on how to become an H2O Hero and how to be a responsible shoreline property owner.
Schultz Outfitters and HRWC hosted the 4th annual Single Fly tournament recently. With more participation this year than the previous year; the Single Fly tournament raised upwards of $2,220 to help RiverUp!, and a fish habitat restoration project in Ypsilanti on the Huron River. Special thanks to Rick Taylor of Reinhart Realtor’s for donating the food and drinks for the after-party. Another very special thanks goes out to all of our Single Fly participants to Mike Schultz of Schultz Outfitters. For a listing of the winner’s click here.
The Single Fly tournament is an annual event that celebrates watershed protection and a special group of folks that spends a great deal of time on the river, Anglers. Anglers are important stewards of the watershed because they are out in the field observing and monitoring the Huron River and its tributaries throughout the year. HRWC greatly values the anglers for their stewardship because they often serve as our eyes and ears out in the field when we cannot be there.
If you would like to know a little more about fly fishing on the Huron River, check out the newest posting in Aaron Rubel’s blog about kayak fishing and fly fishing.
Today’s News to Us shares an article on how the winter impacted Emerald Ash Borer populations in the area. Also read two articles on the status of a couple of developments on Huron riverfront properties- Milford has a new brewery and Ypsilanti struggles to fill Water Street. Finally, Washtenaw County has a new reporting service for flood and drainage issues.
After the Trees Disappear: Ash Forests After Emerald Ash Borers Destroy Them The cold weather did nothing to deter the Emerald Ash Borer’s march through the northern Midwest and east coast. The insect is decimating ash tree populations with implication far exceeding the loss of landscape and street trees. This article shares the status of the invasion and potential consequences for forests in our area.
Water Street property falls short of initial expectations Debate about the fate of Ypsilanti’s Water Street property continues. There are high hopes for this riverfront property to provide river and open space recreation activities along with benefits for downtown businesses and residents. But interest in the property from investors has been sparse. Read about the latest discussions in this article.
New River’s Edge Brewery now open in downtown Milford A new brewery has opened in the watershed. River’s Edge in Milford will bring brews to the river front. Stop by and welcome our new neighbor, either in car or kayak!
Residents can now report flooding, drainage problems to county using online form Washtenaw County residents can now submit reports of flooding and drainage issues online. Photos can be uploaded too, to help identify the problem. This is a new feature. Residents can still report issues on email or by phone. Emergency issues should still be reported using 911.
On June 2, the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.
The proposal would
- cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
- Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
- Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits (in Michigan, our nine oldest power plants cost Michigan families $1.5 billion each year in healthcare costs); and
- Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system. Recent reports for Michigan show that renewable power is 26 percent cheaper than comparable coal-fired electricity, while Michigan customers save $3.83 for every dollar invested in energy efficiency programs.
States have until 2030 to reach the goal, and will be allowed to use a variety of strategies to reach the goal. This flexibility will allow states to reach the goal with a minimum of disruption to their economies. In fact, many studies predict that the rules will spur markets in alternative energy and energy consumption, creating jobs and resulting in cheaper electricity bills.
EPA published the proposed rule today (June 18) in the Federal Register and will take comments for the next 120 days (up until October 16). EPA will finalize the standards next June. Please add your voice and let EPA know you support the new rule. You can use the suggested text below (from the Natural Resources Defense Council) or write your own, and submit to the EPA.
“Comment on existing source pollution standard [Docket: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602]
“Dear Environmental Protection Agency,
“Thank you for proposing this standard to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. Without these standards in place, polluters will continue to dump an unlimited amount of carbon pollution into our air.
“This is a critical part of President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution coming from power plants each year. With these limits we can avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.
“Carbon pollution fuels climate change, drives extreme weather, threatens communities and cuts too many lives short. I urge you to stand strong against their pressure and adopt this critical new standard (Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602).”
There is still room available on our next paddle trip; don’t miss an opportunity to experience the quiet waters of the Huron River with expert paddlers Ron Sell, Barry Lonik, and the HRWC staff. Our summer solstice paddle includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features. Shuttle transportation is provided. Bring your own watercraft, gear, food, drinking water and appropriate clothing for the weather. Every paddler must wear a flotation device – bring your own!
For a Paddler’s Safety Checklist click HERE.
- Saturday, June 21
Summer Solstice Paddle
Island Park to Peninsular Dam*
*Exact location of each put-in will be sent to participants upon registration.
Registration is required and available HERE.
More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE.
This past Sunday HRWC held our annual Fly Fishing Lessons; thanks to our instructor, Mike Mouradian of Ann Arbor Trout Unlimited, along with the help of experienced instructors from AATU, and Dirk Fischbach, of Bailiwicks Outdoors in Dexter. This year’s lessons were held at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor and we couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions. During each of the lesson’s instructors explained casting, knot tying, fly identification, and the entomology of fly fishing. The lessons were comprised of informative lectures, as well as, hand’s on activities where the participant’s hone their newly learned skills.
A very special thanks to all of the participants, and to the dedicated instructors for contributing their time and knowledge so that participants could understand the essentials to foster a summer of fun!
Upcoming recreation events:
Birding, Saturday, June 7, 7:30 AM, Gallup Park Canoe Livery Boat Launch
Paddle Trip, Saturday, June 21, 4 PM, Island Park to Peninsular Dam
- Huron River Watershed Walk, Thursday, June 26, 6 PM, Beckwith Preserve
More information and how to register for all of our summer recreation events HERE
Order by Monday, June 9th.
Available items are the “FreeGarden 55-gallon Rain Barrel” for $55 ($150 value), the “FreeGarden Compost Bin” $45 ($100 value), compost pails, aerators, and thermometers. Details and ordering information HERE.
This is a Pre-order sale only.
The PICK UP DAY for all pre-ordered units is Saturday June 14, 2014, 9am-3pm at the Livingston County East Complex parking lot located at 2300 E. Grand River Ave in Howell.
This is your opportunity to purchase high quality products while taking advantage of high volume pricing. Hosted by the the Livingston County Solid Waste Program, this sale is made possible through the Livingston County Drain Commissioner, Brian Jonckheere, and the Livingston County Board of Commissioners. Further information is available at www.livgov.com/dpw or by calling the Solid Waste Program at 517-545-9609 during normal business hours or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Details and ordering information HERE.
The adventure continues!
You can read Mark Schaller’s first post here about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.
Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
Guest Author: Mark Schaller
Now that the initial visit and thermometer placement was out of the way it was time to schedule the second visit. Like our previous trip, real life issues came up for most of the team, and Erin and myself continued our team of two.
We decided that Erin would handle the writing duties while I took the reading and pictures. This time around we were supposed to check for signs of wildlife and pick up any garbage. After her last losing battle with mosquitoes Erin came prepared this time. Long sleeve shirts and real insect repellent were in order. She even sprayed me down to try to keep the bugs at bay. It didn’t work.
Woods Creek was pretty much in the same state as the last time we were here. We entered at the first bridge and got to work. We took a few temperature and water conductivity readings and not much had changed. Since I didn’t have to concentrate on the readings, I spent more time checking out what signs of life there were. Erin is more of an herbologist than I am so she kept track of the plant life. She was rattling off plant names and I just took her word for it. I’m not a vegetarian.
Like last time I spotted some smaller bait fish but couldn’t get a good enough look at them to see what they were. When we got to the water thermometers I saw some larger fish hiding underneath the stump but again I couldn’t get a good look to see what they were. What I did see were a lot of crayfish. These guys I was very interested in. I wanted to know if they were native crayfish or the non-native rusty variety. For the rest of the walk I tried to catch one and for most of the walk my efforts were pretty futile. Just as I was about to grab one it would take off and disappear in the silt. Even with my advance warning system screaming every time one ran across her foot, I still couldn’t corner one long enough to grab it.
Eventually I caught one and it wasn’t a Rusty. So far so good. I was able to catch a couple more and they were all native crayfish as well. I don’t know what kind exactly, but they weren’t Rusty crayfish. I’m sure the Rusty’s will eventually work their way into this creek but for now no sign of them.
One of the other things we had to do during this trip was pick up garbage. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t much. I expected to find plastic worm containers, fish line, and empty cans. All I really found was some pieces of broken glass and an old shirt. Nice to see that there wasn’t much trash!
Stayed tuned for the third and final part of Mark’s creekwalking experience.
Inspire River Protection With Art!
Come decorate the curbside connections to the Huron River! Ann Arbor artist David Zinn and Karim Motawi will lead the crowd in chalking four of our downtown stormdrain inlets into works of art. We provide the chalk, you bring the creativity!
When: Friday, June 13, 2014, 6-8pm
Where: The Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair, at the Liberty and Main intersection and the Huron River Watershed Council booth in front of the Melting Pot.
Presented by HRWC in partnership with the 14th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission.
We depend on stormdrains to keep our streets from flooding during storms. Yet, these devices also direct litter and polluted rainwater straight into the Huron River. We’ll show and tell the stormdrain connection and recruit families to adopt their neighborhood stormdrains, keeping them for rain only by removing litter, leaves and other debris in the spring, summer, and fall months.
Can’t make it to the Green Fair? Do your part by Adopting A Stormdrain in your neighborhood . . . learn more about it HERE.
This past weekend we held our first Birding event, as well as, our first Paddle trip of the summer. We were delighted to have Dea Armtrong, Ann Arbor Ornithologist, at both of the events. Dea was able to offer insight through her expertise of the birds in our watershed during the Birding event and the paddle trip. Thanks to all of our participants in both events, Dea, and Huron River guides Ron Sell and Barry Lonik.
Friday, the Birding participants met at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. Dea led our walk throughout the park and guided participants to look and listen for local migratory birds. The range of Birding experience among participants varied from first timers, to seasoned veterans. Nearly sixty birders used their eyes and ears to spot a variety of different birds.
Saturday, we traveled to Bruin Lake Campground in Gregory, MI. Our trip was led by Huron River guides Ron Sell and Barry Lonik. Dea joined us as well; she helped point out and identify many of the birds we would encounter on our trip. After 3.5 hours paddling her bird count totaled 47 species! You can view her bird count HERE.
Upcoming Recreation Events:
- Huron River Watershed Walk
Saturday, May 24
Frog Island Park to Waterworks Park Ypsilanti, MI
- Fly Fishing Lessons
Sunday, June 1
Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, June 7
Gallup Park, Ann Arbor, MI
Visit our Facebook for more photo’s of this weekends events HERE.
Visit our Summer Recreation page for information on all events HERE.