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 Honey Creek’s bacterial contamination, which flows to the Huron River, HRWC is reaching out to residents to encourage them to take specific actions to address the pollution. In addition, we will monitor the creek after our outreach efforts to see where gains are being made.
What we are doing in the Honey Creek area:
- Identify and encourage the elimination of human sources. Canine detection is being used to identify failing septic systems followed by homeowner outreach.
- 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.
- Reduce pet waste entering storm systems. A combination of regulation, education and infrastructure will be used to reduce pet waste inputs to Honey Creek.
- Evaluate the success of these efforts to guide future investments. Year three will involve extensive monitoring and analysis to gage progress.
This project is unique because it is likely that together, we can remove human-sourced pathogens and significantly reduce 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. We hope this project will serve as a model for reducing bacteria levels in similar watersheds around the state.
FUNDED BY: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Non Point Source Pollution Program
PROJECT BUDGET: $149,740
TIMELINE: November, 2016 – October, 2019