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Archive for the ‘Water Quality’ Category

Where are the Mudpuppies?

mudpuppy2The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the Herpetological Resource and Management are asking for help in collecting dead specimens of Mudpuppies. Due to the extreme weather conditions this year, herpetologists are anticipating a large winterkill, which provides a unique opportunity to assess population health.

What is a Mudpuppy?

• Michigan’s largest, fully aquatic salamander

Why Are They Important?

• “Bioindicator” species: Due to their sensitivity to pollutants and poor water quality, these salamanders act as an early warning system for environmental problems

• Are the only intermediate host to the Endangered Salamander Mussel

• Great Lakes populations are declining, and the true abundance is currently unknown

How Can I Help?

Place the whole Mudpuppy(s) in ziploc bag, seal, and freeze the bag. Tissue samples may be placed in storage tubes containing ethanol.

Include the following information on a 3×5 card placed within the bag (using pencil) and on the outside of the bag (using permanent marker). In the case of tissue samples, label outside of tube with permanent marker.

1.) Observer

2.) Date

3.) Precise Collection Location

Contact one of the following people:

1.) David Mifsud 517-522-3525 DMifsud@HerpRMan.com

2.) Maegan Stapleton 517-522-3525 Stapleton@HerpRMan.com

3.) Amber Stedman 815-761-8941  AStedman@EMich.edu

4.) Greg Schneider 734-647-1927, 734-763-0740 ES@UMich.edu

mudpuppy1

Frackers in the Watershed?

What do you do if someone wants to lease your oil/gas development rights?

Natural gas fracking drill

Do you really want this to be part of your view? Credit: Daniel Foster

That is a question we have been hearing recently. There may be new interest in potential natural gas reserves beneath the watershed that could be accessed via traditional drilling, directional drilling or hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), which we have been hearing so much about nationally. The companies interested in leasing drilling rights and their representatives (colloquially referred to as “landmen”) often are quite aggressive in their pursuit of lease signatures. Oil or gas exploration and extraction can have a significant impact on the land and our water resources, so careful consideration should be given before signing away your rights.

 

Folks in the northern half of the lower peninsula have been dealing with this issue for a number of years now, so I called one of our sister organizations, the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, for some advice. Here is what they recommend if the landmen come knocking on your door with promises of riches:

1. Get a lawyer experienced in oil and gas leases to review any contract prior to signing. It’s just too easy to sign away your rights and once you do, it is hard to stop the drillers if they start mucking things up. Your county bar association can refer you to qualified attorneys or HRWC can suggest one (call or e-mail Ric).

2. Check out Michigan State University’s information for land owners. Consider going to a landowner meeting. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/oil_and_gas

3. If your neighbors do start signing leases and drillers start planning for exploration, get your surface and groundwater tested. You want this done professionally in case you need to prove damage later down the road. The Michigan DEQ maintains a list of certified labs at https://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3307_4131_4156-36940–,00.html. Tip of the Mitt has some great advice on deciding what to test and when at http://www.watershedcouncil.org/learn/hydraulic-fracturing/baseline-testing/.

 

Thanks to the staff at Tip of the Mitt for the helpful advice.

 

If you have been contacted about selling your oil/gas rights, let us know in the comments. We are interested in tracking this issue and it’s spread across the watershed.

Ric Lawson

Ric works on stormwater management and policy and sends volunteers out to measure the pulse of the river and help with watershed monitoring and studies. Officially, he is a Watershed Planner. Unofficially, he gets wet trying to catch fish and splashing around with his wife and kids at various undisclosed river locations.

Latest posts by Ric Lawson (see all)

Senate approves bill to battle algal blooms

The Senate last night approved legislation from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to boost federal efforts against the harmful algae blooms that haunt many of the nation’s waters.

S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and 18 colleagues, would authorize interagency work on algae blooms and the dead zones, suffering from a lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, that they frequently spawn. The legislation would also create a national program with a research plan and action strategy. The legislation also requires the interagency Task Force to: (1) submit within 18 months to Congress and the President an integrated assessment that examines the causes, consequences, and approaches to reduce hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes; and (2) develop and submit to Congress a plan, based on such assessment, for reducing, mitigating, and controlling such hypoxia and blooms.

The upper chamber approved the legislation by unanimous consent.

Algae blooms, a result of nutrient pollution that washes off farm fields and suburban streets and comes from wastewater treatment plants, are an entrenched problem across the United States. Sprawling algae blooms on Florida’s east and west coasts this summer kept people from the water and contributed to the deaths of sea animals, including the highest recorded annual death count for manatees (Greenwire, Dec. 20, 2013). Closer to home, nuisance algal blooms impact Ford Lake and Belleville Lake, impoundments of the Huron River, reducing access to the waters for fishing, swimming, and other outdoor pursuits.

“We can’t sit back and let endangered creatures disappear along with jobs in the fishing industry,” Nelson said when he introduced the legislation in June.

Elizabeth Riggs

Elizabeth directs RiverUp!, the signature placemaking initiative for Huron River communities, and also serves as Deputy Director for the Watershed Council. She thinks this may be the year that she finally invests in her own kayak or canoe - suggestions welcome.

News to Us

Fish consumption advisories will likely be in place for a long time.

Fish consumption advisories will likely be in place for a long time.

Dexter’s Mill Creek Park recieves an award.  Also, learn more about the problem underlying Michigan fish consumption advisories, what all this snow means as temperatures warm, and the status of negotiations on the future of Detroit Water and Sewer. Finally, we share two articles on proposed developments in the watershed that are making waves.

DEXTER: Dexter Village recognized by Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors for Mill Creek Park   Area realtors give a nod to Dexter’s Mill Creek Park, awarding the Village of Dexter one of two Environmental Awareness Awards.  Several groups came together including HRWC and the Village to remove a dam from Mill Creek in 2008. The dam removal and riverside improvements on this tributary of the Huron River show how social, cultural and ecological goals can align and result in something remarkable.

Michigan’s toxic fish face long recovery, state finds  Most fish consumption advisories in the State are in place because of high levels of mercury and PCB’s in fish tissue.  These pollutants are particularly challenging to reduce as the majority of the pollutants originate in places outside of Michigan and are deposited here when it rains. A sobering analysis conducted by MDEQ concludes clean-up requires global commitments to reduce emissions of these toxins and could take 50 or more years before we see improvements here in Michigan.

Could all this snow bring spring flooding in Ann Arbor? City official says it depends  The weather forecast for next week shows warm temperatures at last.  Will we see flooding as record setting snowfall accumulations melt?

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Detroit water deal: ‘We’re probably going to walk’
Many residents of the watershed receive their drinking water from Detroit Sewer and Water, particularly in Wayne County and parts of Oakland County.  With major budget issues DSW has been in flux and one solution on the table is to create a regional water authority. Communities have mixed opinions on the current proposal for this new entity.

CHELSEA: Public hearing on Lyndon sand mine expected to attract concerned residents There are a couple of pending developments in the watershed that are creating a stir.  This article shares a proposed sand mining operation in Lyndon Township near Green Lake and Waterloo Recreation Area. To voice your concerns, attend a public hearing scheduled for Monday February 17th at 7:00 PM at Sylvan Township Hall.

Development spurs debate Another development making headlines is a proposed subdivision on one of the last remaining natural areas on Woodland Lake in Brighton Township.  A public hearing took place last week.  A rezoning proposal now resides with the Livingston County Planning Commission.

News to Us

Winter scene in Fleming Creek

Winter scene in Fleming Creek

This edition of News to Us shares several articles on pollution, both where we are losing ground and making some gains.  Two stories provide updates on pending park improvements.  Finally, take a look back at January’s weather in a piece that captures the month in numbers.

Michigan rivers polluted by human, animal waste more than double previous estimates Occurrences of pathogen pollution have more than doubled in Michigan’s rivers and lakes in recent years.  The new numbers are thought to be the result of better monitoring rather than marked changes in water quality.  The problem is, and has been, widespread.  Most of the waters impaired by pathogens (from human and animal waste) are located in southeast Michigan.  Failing septic tanks, manure from farm fields, sewer overflows and polluted runoff are the leading contributors to the problem.

Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water? Building on the story we published in the last edition of News to Us on trace chemicals in drinking water, Michigan Radio’s The Environment Report, covers potential impacts to fish from emerging contaminants – pharmaceuticals.

Michigan: Thornapple River. Removing Dam Improves Dissolved Oxygen Levels in River It is not all bad news when it comes to water quality.  Before and after monitoring data showed improved dissolved oxygen (DO) levels at the site of a dam removal. Prior to the removal of the dam, DO levels were so low, the river was listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act.  The river will be delisted for its DO impairment.

By the numbers: See how Ann Arbor’s cold and snowy January stacks up against history  This is a fun look at this month’s weather.  It uses Ann Arbor’s weather stations but similar numbers would apply across the watershed.  Spoiler alert: It’s been coooold!

Milford Village Council Approves Final Submittal for Phase I of AMP Project  Milford is one step closer to making significant improvements its Central Park that includes an amphitheater for their summer concert series. Pettibone Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, runs through this park.  Milford is one of five Huron River Trail Towns.

Next steps for Ann Arbor greenway project uncertain after grant funds denied  A key parcel in the Allen’s Creek Greenway, did not receive state funding for improvements necessary to take it from a retired city maintenance yard to a welcoming civic space.  The Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy and the City of Ann Arbor will be meeting to determine what the next steps for keeping the greenway project moving forward.

The Inaugural Michigan Inland Lakes Convention

Partnering to Protect Michigan’s Inland Lakes

MILP logo cropped sm

May 1-3, 2014, Boyne Mountain

The Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership is pleased to announce that registration is open for the inaugural Michigan Inland Lakes Convention, May 1-3 at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls. Register by March 1 to take advantage of the Early Bird discount!

Bill Rustem, Director of Strategy for Governor Rick Snyder, will join us for a plenary address on Friday morning, May 2. Mr. Rustem will focus on the conference theme of partnerships, with his address “Successful Partnerships – Importance to Government”. Prior to his current position in the Governor’s office, Mr. Rustem was an owner of Public Sector Consultants (PSC) and was the firm’s president and CEO. While at PSC, Mr. Rustem directed studies on the status of Michigan cities, wastewater treatment needs, recycling, and land use. Before joining the firm, Mr. Rustem was Gov. William G. Milliken’s chief staff advisor on environmental matters and director of the Governor’s Policy Council.

The Convention presents an opportunity for lake enthusiasts, lake professionals, researchers, local government officials and anyone else interested in protecting our water resources to participate in three days of educational presentations and discussion, in-depth workshops, tours, exhibits and much more focused on Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes.

The 2014 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention is brought to you by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership, launched in 2008 to promote collaboration to advance stewardship of Michigan’s inland lakes. The Convention is a cooperative effort between many public and private organizations including the Michigan Chapter of the North American Lake Management Society, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc., Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan State University Institute of Water Research.

Visit the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership website at http://michiganlakes.msue.msu.edu to register. Questions about the Convention can be directed to Dr. Jo Latimore, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, at latimor1@msu.edu or 517-432-1491.

Paul Steen

Paul works on the Adopt-a-Stream Program and is program manager for Michigan's MiCorps program, a statewide volunteer water monitoring network. He really likes aquatic insects, fish, stream ecology, natural history, and trying to make the HRWC website more legible.

Email: psteen@hrwc.org

Latest posts by Paul Steen (see all)

What Ever Happened With My Data?

Expert volunteer hard at work!

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

The river to our south - the River Raisin.

The river to our south – the River Raisin. Photo Credit: CaptPiper @ flickr.com/photos/piper

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.

More creekshed reports available!

creeksheds

What creekshed do you live in? Check out our interactive creekshed map! 

 

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.

Creekshed Reports:

 

 

 

What is Your Green Infrastructure Vision?

GreenInfrastructureGeneralSEMCOG 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.

For example:

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:

  1. The most important outcomes of green infrastructure
  2. What kinds of green infrastructure citizens would like to see (e.g., parks, rain gardens, trails)
  3. 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


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