We have so much to celebrate, and there is nothing like an anniversary to pause, reflect on our past, and appreciate how far we have come. This year, we recognize three anniversaries that remind us that 57 years ago, when HRWC was established, the river was a very different place and we still had much to learn. This year, the Clean Water Act turns 50. HRWC staff and volunteers began monitoring macroinvertebrates 30 years ago and water chemistry 20 years ago. This edition of the Huron River Report features the history and highlights the importance of each of these wins for clean water.
Clean Water Act
Daniel Brown’s Clean Water Act article reminds us of that legislation’s impact on rivers throughout the country. No longer could industries simply discharge highly polluted water into local waterways. There is no equivalent policy for nonpoint source pollution, and this is where the lion’s share of HRWC’s efforts is focused: reducing pollution that makes it to the river as runoff from farm fields, pavement, rooftops, and lawns.
Paul Steen and Jason Frenzel’s article on the history of River Roundup, which monitors insects in streams, illustrates how forward thinking the staff and volunteers were in the 1990s. Years of growth and refinement of this program made HRWC a leader in our state, allowing us to teach others how to do similar work on their rivers. Additionally, with 30 years of data, we can evaluate trends and report status updates for each of the Huron River’s creeksheds. Explore your creekshed via our Info Stream mapping tool at HRWC.org/maps
Ric Lawson and Andrea Paine’s article highlights 20 years of chemistry and flow monitoring. This water quality monitoring program has evolved over the years, and now we have a long-term data set that is the envy of many watershed organizations around the country. These data inform our annual protection and restoration efforts. Through our leadership in developing this program, HRWC became a key player in creating shared citizen monitoring standards for the entire Lake Erie basin.
Protecting a river takes time, dedication, tenacity, and advocacy. It is good to take a step back from time to time and celebrate how it all adds up. As we move forward, we will use our recently completed strategic plan to propel our work for the next five years and beyond. The plan is ambitious, designed to build off our successes, and will increase our impact so we can achieve more.
We are Moving!
As we celebrate HRWC’s accomplishments over the last 57 years, we realize we need to invest in our physical home to enable the HRWC team to do its best work. Our home at the NEW Center on the Huron River has served us well for many decades, but it is time to start a new chapter. This summer HRWC offices will move to the Phoenix West building in downtown Ann Arbor. We need your help to make this move a reality. Please consider contributing generously to our capital campaign to create a new Headquarters for the Huron. We look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with you there.
This blog post was originally published in the Huron River Report, Summer 2022.