Reducing Bacteria in Honey Creek

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Portions of the middle Huron River watershed, including Honey Creek, fail to meet minimum water quality standards or provide designated uses. Honey Creek is listed as impaired by the state due to elevated bacteria levels (E. coli). A watershed management plan identified some “critical areas” of the watershed had much higher bacteria concentrations than others.

To address the bacterial contamination within Honey Creek and reduce inputs from this tributary to the Huron River downstream, HRWC is implementing several reduction strategies. In addition, monitoring will be conducted after strategy implementation to see where gains are being made.

    The four strategies include:

  1. Identify and encourage the elimination of human sources. Canine detection will be used to identify failing septic systems followed by homeowner outreach.
  2. Educate residents about pathogen problems and how they can help. Outreach materials will be delivered primarily within “critical areas.” We will also meet with farmers to discuss ways they reduce contamination from their practices.
  3. Reduce pet waste entering storm systems. A combination of regulation, education and infrastructure will be used to reduce pet waste inputs to Honey Creek.
  4. Evaluate the success of these efforts to guide future investments. Year three will involve extensive monitoring and analysis to gauge progress.

This project is unique in that there is a high likelihood that the outcome will be a removal of human-sourced pathogens and a significant reduction in overall bacteria levels in Honey Creek. Given the level of contamination in the creek, it is quite possible that the pathogen impairment could be completely removed and the creek returned to full beneficial use status. It is a goal to have this project serve as a model to follow for reducing bacteria levels in similar watersheds around the state

FUNDED BY: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Non Point Source Pollution Program
TIMELINE: November, 2016 – October, 2019

About the 2011-2013 Honey Creek Watershed Plan

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