Reducing Bacteria in Honey Creek
Portions of the middle Huron River watershed, including Honey Creek, fail to meet minimum water quality standards. Honey Creek, which flows to the Huron River, is listed as impaired by the State due to elevated bacteria levels (E. coli). HRWC produced a watershed management plan and through that process, we found that Honey Creek has some “critical areas” with higher bacteria concentrations than others. Given these findings, we applied for and received a grant to address some of the issues.
The goal of our Honey Creek project is to reduce bacterial contamination. To this end, 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.
Honey Creek Project:
- 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 pet waste disposal stations 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 gauge 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