Archive for the ‘Water Quality’ Category
HRWC volunteers spend a lot of the summer collecting water quality information. THANK YOU! Of course, getting in the water is great fun and often a fun challenge. But what of all the data that we collect? What does it tell us? Where does it go?
2013 Field Results
Join HRWC staff as we present the results of the 2013 field work for Portage Creek, Bioreserve, Adopt-A-Stream, and Water Quality Monitoring. Program directors Kris Olsson, Paul Steen, Pam Labadie and Ric Lawson will give presentations on the most recent findings, followed by Q and A.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
6:30 – 8:00 PM
NEW Center Conference Rooms
1100 North Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Please RSVP to Jason: JFrenzel@hrwc.org
News to Us has been coming to you via a guest editor (one of HRWC’s summer interns Jhena Vigrass — Thanks Jhena!) for the past couple of months while I was out on maternity leave. After many weeks of very minimal exposure to news and current events, I have resurfaced to mixed news on the state of our river and the waters of Southeast Michigan. There have been an alarming number of reports of sewage overflows and other hazardous spills recently. This may be due to better reporting, coincidence, aging infrastructure or negligence. Likely it is a combination of several of these reasons. What it means for certain is our river has taken some hits and diligence on the part of HRWC, local governments, the State and watershed residents is as important as ever. Read about some of these setbacks and the steps several of our neighbors including Oakland County, the City of Ann Arbor and the communities of the Raisin River watershed, are doing to improve the situation.
COLUMN: Crucial issues need to be addressed regarding Great Lakes health Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash shares his opinion on some of the most pressing local issues that affect our waterways and the health of the Great Lakes. He discusses stormwater management and what he hopes the recent summit hosted by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office will do to raise awareness about stormwater issues and solutions.
Ann Arbor’s increasing sewage overflows and aging sewer system a concern of officials This article discusses recent sewage spills in Ann Arbor, possible reasons for more frequent infrastructure failures and what the City is doing in response. These spills often reach the Huron River or its tributaries directly, impacting water quality. Rapid response and prevention are key to protecting our water from sewage contamination.
Popular Bathroom Wipes Blamed for Sewer Clogs. In related news, this national piece was recently released. There are things, we as residents of this watershed, can do to help our cities and villages keep sewer systems clean, functioning and less susceptible to failure. Avoid flushing anything that does not breakdown readily such as the bathroom wipes mentioned in this article but also diapers, disposable toilet bowl cleaners, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, oil and grease all of which contribute to clogged sewage pipes.
Unknown fluid draining into Huron River near EMU campus Washtenaw County HAZMAT and EPA are investigating the spill of an unknown substance to the Huron River last week. The spill occurred near the Eastern Michigan University campus by the bridge on Forest Avenue, near Frog Island.
River Raisin Less Polluted, Officials Say Good news coming from our neighbors to the south. The Raisin River watershed, draining areas of Washtenaw, Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Monroe counties, has realized enough improvement in the river that several “beneficial use impairments” (BIUs), set by USEPA, have been removed. Two of fourteen BIUs were removed because of marked gains on E. coli and nutrient levels in the river. This is great progress made through the efforts of the communities and residents of the Raisin River watershed.
As reported last September, HRWC is compiling all of our data on a creekshed scale, looking specifically at our creeks and the land that affects them. We are synthesizing all of our knowledge on these creeksheds and putting them into easily digestible and colorful 4 page reports.
There are now seven creekshed reports available, including the Woods Creek report, which was just finished.
Woods Creek, located near Belleville, is the healthiest lower Huron River tributary. There are several ordinances protecting the creek and there are many invested citizens who live in the watershed, including the Woods Creek Friends.
SEMCOG is partnering with HRWC and other members to develop a regional green infrastructure vision for Southeast Michigan. Green Infrastructure is both a network of green space and natural areas in our communities, along with built techniques such as rain gardens and bioswales that preserve the function of the natural ecosystem to benefit residents of the region.
Parks can add recreational opportunities.
Rain gardens along roads can clean the rain water before it enters our rivers and lakes.
Community gardens in urban areas provide a positive use for vacant land and a local food source.
Boat access sites can meet tourism and local needs to better use our nationally recognized lakes.
Results from this short survey will help support the Green Infrastructure Vision for Southeast Michigan and provide a basis for future natural resource planning. “Communities in Southeast Michigan are realizing the value of a strong natural resource base as a mechanism to provide recreational opportunities for citizens, increase tourism, and protect water quality,” said Amy Mangus, SEMCOG Plan Implementation. “The Green Infrastructure Vision for Southeast Michigan helps create a roadmap for getting there.”
The brief survey asks questions pertaining to:
- The most important outcomes of green infrastructure
- What kinds of green infrastructure citizens would like to see (e.g., parks, rain gardens, trails)
- Where these natural areas should be located
HRWC’s own Green Infrastructure projects (focusing on both natural areas and built GI) will benefit from SEMCOG’s work on this regional vision. HRWC’s work will inform SEMCOG’s regional vision, which will aid in planning and securing funding for natural areas protection, greenway and trail development, and construction of green infrastructure for control of stormwater runoff.
You can give your input on green infrastructure planning to SEMCOG at http://bit.ly/15LhVQa
Time to Get in the Water!
Have you always dreamed of making a difference? Of helping to protect a resource that sustains you, your family – your community?
You will learn how to “read a river” by characterizing the bed, banks and other indicators of stream health. No prior knowledge is necessary! Once you complete our training, you will form into teams to map a site on a later date selected by you and the team. You will go out into a stream in Livingston, Oakland, Wayne or Washtenaw County for about 4 hours later in the month — whenever is good for you! You will be walking IN the stream and possibly over uneven terrain when you map your site, so be prepared to get wet. Older children (9+) are welcome to attend, but each one must be accompanied by one adult.
The training session will be three hours on Sunday afternoon at the NEW Center at 1100 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
Grand Opening Celebration, Saturday, June 22, 5:30 to 8pm.
The City of Ann Arbor, in partnership with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, recently completed a streambank stabilization project on Traver Creek,
extending through the Leslie Park Golf Course. The project corrected severe streambank erosion and addressed high volumes of sediment and attached pollutants that were being removed and deposited downstream.
This project is a partnership between the city and the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office. Departments within the city that worked collaboratively include Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation, Natural Area Preservation and Water Quality Management.
The scope of this project included Traver Creek being regraded, stabilized and naturalized. This project will alleviate downstream flooding, and address bank erosion as well as reduction of the phosphorus load in Traver Creek, tributary to the Huron River. In addition, there was an opportunity to create an area with native wetland plantings to establish an inline constructed wetland. Constructed wetlands are one of the best methods for pollutant removal, mitigation of peak flow rates and even reduce runoff volumes. They also can provide considerable aesthetic and wildlife benefits.
Interesting project-related facts:
- Length of channel: 3,300 feet
- Earth moved: 30,000 cubic yards
- Native Area/Wetland created: 6.5 acres
- Native restoration: 10.2 acres
- Erosion prevented: 687 tons annually
- Native trees planted: 79
- Native shrubs planted: 347
- Species of wildflower seed planted: over 50
- Daylighted/reestablished the Arrowwood branch of the Traver Creek
- Aquatic habitat structures installed to create riffles and runs
- Approximately $865,000 received in grant funding for water quality improvements
Flooding and bank erosion not only affect water quality, but increase golf course maintenance and sometimes limit golf play. For these reasons, the project was designed to help stabilize the creek channel and increase the drainage capacity of Traver Creek on Leslie Park Golf Course. The ponds on holes 12 and 17 were reconfigured to slow runoff that occurs after a rainstorm and will help capture sediment.
HRWC staff and volunteers conducted water quality monitoring prior to and during construction. We plan to continue monitoring for the coming 3-5 years to determine effectiveness of the project. Prior to the project, it was determined that the section of creek being repaired was releasing 48% more phosphorus than upstream and 200% more than downstream sections. Also, HRWC volunteers, along with Leslie Science and Nature Center camp youth conducted benthic macroinvertebrate evaluation, temperature study, and water chemistry analysis.
The public is invited to see and learn how the improvements benefit water quality, the environment, and enhance the golfing experience at the award winning Leslie Park Golf Course. The grand opening event takes place Saturday, June 22, 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature tours, games, and refreshments will be served.
This edition of News to Us starts with a success story and we all like success stories. Learn also about the islands of plastic polluting our Great Lakes. We share a few opportunities to attend public events on flooding and fracking. Read also a refreshing perspective on approaching river conservation by finding common ground among individual objectives.
A Tern for the Better: The Detroit River Comeback The common tern has returned to Belle Isle after a 50 year absence. The refuge on Belle Isle is a bright spot showing what can be when we invest in wildlife habitat even in the most urban of places. Read about the successes of our neighbors to the north.
Polluting Plastic Waste Invades Great Lakes: Pacific Garbage Patch May Have a Rival This article brings to light a less often cited, yet major source of pollution in the Great Lakes. Plastics in our waters have implications for birds, fish and other organisms in the food chain. Consider finding ways to keep plastics out of our waterways like switching to reusable bags and cleaning debris and trash away from stormdrains that carry plastics directly to our waterways during rain events.
Ann Arbor kicks off $1.2M study of sewer system, footing drain program and basement sewage backups It is the wet season again. Spring rains rejuvenate our rivers, groundwater, forests and landscaping. But for some households the rains can mean problems when water ends up in basements or sits on roads. Ann Arbor is holding a public meeting to provide updates on ongoing efforts to reduce damaging flooding including an assessment of the sanitary sewer system and footing drain disconnection program.
Sunday Brunch: A tiny trickle turns into a torrent of conservation issues for Michigan This blog from Helen Taylor, State Director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan, shares a nice perspective on river protection. She encourages individuals and groups to consider the “whole-system” rather than a more personal view of the river with an eye on shared goals rather than win-lose propositions—a healthy lens through which to envision the path to a healthy river serving many purposes for many interests.
University of Michigan to hold town hall on future of fracking in the state For those interested in learning more about the practice of fracking to extract natural gas, University of Michigan is hosting a forum on the topic this evening. As far as we are aware, there are no plans for fracking in the watershed at this time but there is very active debate on this topic at the national and state level.
Sadly, not a lot of good news has come across our desks over the past couple of weeks. Instead, we are hearing of major losses, or potential losses, in the gains we have made with our nation’s waters over the decades since the Clean Water Act. It is a signal that we cannot let up on our efforts to protect our freshwater, and the life it supports and the services it provides.
EPA Declares More than Half of US Rivers Unfit for Aquatic Life – A recently released report from the Environmental Protection Agency identified 55% of US rivers and stream are in poor condition for aquatic life. Major culprits include reduced riparian vegetation, phosphorus, nitrogen, mercury and bacteria. We are losing ground on our high quality rivers. Only 21% of US rivers qualified as “good biological condition compared to the 27% that fell into that category in the 2004 assessment. In the Huron, phosphorus is a big concern, as is bacterial pollution. Learn more about local water quality here or listen to a summary of our water quality monitoring results from 2012.
Judge ends federal court oversight of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department The utility responsible for delivering drinking water and treating wastewater for 4 million customers in Southeast Michigan has been under federal oversight for 35 years. Oversight will now move to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality due to significant improvements in compliance with environmental regulations. The new State permit calls for additional improvements to the facility’s wastewater treatment operations.
Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie The Huron’s receiving water, Lake Erie, is in trouble. Toxic algal blooms in the lake are getting worse causing problems for fish populations, tourism and beaches. The lake had seen vast improvements since the Clean Water Act helped halt industrial pollution. Now, we are losing ground primarily due to phosphorus pollution primarily from farming practices. Climate change and zebra mussels are also cited as contributing to the problem.
Hydraulic fracturing in Michigan: Waiting for the boom So far, the Huron River watershed and much of Michigan has not been subject to natural gas extraction via the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process that has many states debating costs versus benefits of the method. The method uses a lot of water and a slurry of chemicals deep into the earth. This article shares why fracking has not yet come to our backyard and under what conditions it may.
The effort to derail ‘Biodiversity Stewardship Areas’ in Michigan Here is another voice in the debate over Senate bill 78. This is a very important issue to us and anyone who values our state’s natural areas and their inhabitants. We will continue to keep you up-to-date on our website. To learn more about the issue and how to voice your opinion see our blog Healthy Forests and Waters At-Risk in Michigan .
Chances are good that if you’re a regular to HRWC blogs, then you’ve already heard about Senate Bill 78 that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from taking actions that achieve or maintain biological diversity. In doing so, it would prevent the department from carrying out a central tenet of its mission to conserve and protect our natural resources. Biological diversity is critical to our environmental legacy and to the health of the Huron River system.
The bill has passed the full Senate primarily along party-lines, despite the opposition of residents, professors from a number of Michigan’s universities, and environmental and conservation organizations.
Aside from restricting the ability of the DNR to make decisions based on a basic scientific principle, the legislation could also jeopardize Michigan’s ability to receive federal funding for forest management, endanger our forest certifications and put at risk areas of our state that have long been appreciated by Michigan residents for outdoor recreation and their scenic beauty.
The bill is now on its way to the House Natural Resources Committee. To share your views and concerns about SB 78, tell your State Representative to contact Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, Chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and urge her to stop this bill.
SB 78 is anything but Pure Michigan.
For additional reading on this issue, we recommend the following links:
“State Senate bill puts forests at risk of disease, pests, environmentalists say.” Detroit Free Press.
“Legislation redefining conservation puts Michigan’s diversity of nature at risk: MEC Commentary.” Detroit Free Press
“Anti-Biodiversity Bill hearings Continue.” MEC blog: http://michigandistilled.org/
Sepp Holzer To Lecture on Ecological Farming Techniques at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Tuesday, April 2, 6:30-9pm
Rackham Amphitheatre, (Rackham Building, 4th floor)
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
In-depth Three Day Permaculture Course, April 2-4, 2013 also offered.
Permaculture is a whole-systems-design-approach to land, water, food, energy and buildings. When it comes to water, permaculture designers create landscapes that catch, store, clean and reuse water resources. These methods have numerous benefits to ecosystems and watersheds, including water conservation, aquifer restoration, minimizing soil runoff and erosion control. Permaculture utilizes organic agriculture practices, eliminating the use of toxic pesticides and chemicals that pollute our rivers, streams, and damage biodiversity. The goal of Permaculture design is to provide for human needs and protect diverse ecosystems, all within the flow of natural patterns and cycles.
Sepp Holzer has pioneered the use of ecological farming and Permaculture throughout the world. He began farming this way in Austria in the 1960’s after being unsuccessful with conventional agriculture methods. He is known as the “rebel farmer” because he persisted despite being fined and even threatened with prison. His “Krameterhoff” farm in the Austrian alps receives thousands of students and visitors each year.