Recently, residents of Areas of Concern (AOCs) around the Great Lakes have expressed concern about the future of Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for these areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not given up on RAPs. In fact, among the environmental priorities for U.S. EPA Region 5 are reduction of toxics in the environment and the cleanup of contaminated sediments—both of which are important issues in the Great Lakes. In addition, the Great Lakes as well as Northwest Indiana, Southeast Michigan and Northeast Ohio have been identified as priority places for environmental cleanups.
Eighteen regional teams have been established to take a comprehensive approach to environmental problems. There are teams for Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie, as well as for the geographic priorities mentioned above. Placing responsibility for the RAPs in these teams will help to identify and address broader environmental issues in the AOCs.
U.S. EPA realizes it cannot and will not supplant the role of the states in the RAP process, but it believes it can contribute to the process by providing technical assistance to communities and states, providing funding to communities and RAP projects, helping to build capacity, providing assistance with information and outreach, and prioritizing its involvement to bring about the greatest environmental improvements.
U.S. EPA will actively work with states and communities to improve water quality in AOCs. This year alone the Region will award $377,000 directly to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and $400,000 to nonprofit organizations for projects within Michigan AOCs. U.S. EPA also is in the process of appointing RAP liaisons for each of the AOCs and hopes to announce these soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact U.S. EPA Region 5 at (312) 353-2000 if the agency can be of any assistance.
The Manistique River flows through Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula, emptying into northern Lake Michigan at the city of Manistique. The Area of Concern (AOC) is the last 1.7 miles of the river, from the former hydroelectric dam to the mouth of the harbor.
Historically, the river within the AOC has received wastes from sawmills, several manufacturing plants and residential sources. The net result has been impairment of aquatic life in the river and harbor.
Impairment is thought to have resulted from sawdust from the sawmilling era (lasting until around 1940), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals, as well as the relatively sterile sandy sediment that eroded from river banks as a result of log drives on the river.
Significant improvements in water quality in the AOC over the last 20 years have resulted from greatly improved treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater discharges to the river. However, restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption and loss of fish and wildlife habitat remain due to past river uses.
Currently, the factor of greatest concern is PCB-laden sediment. PCBs are a type of chlorinated hydrocarbon classified as toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative.
In spring 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) notified several firms of being Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the cleanup of PCB-contaminated sediments in the river and harbor. In a cooperative effort, U.S. EPA and some of the PRPs conducted extensive testing and engineering studies to evaluate effective and feasible remedial alternatives. From these studies, two remedial options were considered.
The first, capping, or in-place containment, was found to be somewhat more protective of human health and also more cost effective. The capping alternative was supported by area residents and the PRPs. Capping involves isolating PCB-affected sediments from the surrounding environment by a covering of sand that is itself protected from disruption by a layer of stone.
The second alternative, dredging to remove the affected sediments, was preferred by U.S. EPA. This alternative consisted of physical removal of contaminated sediments from the river followed by their disposal at an approved facility.
In an October 1995 action memo, U.S. EPA selected capping for the majority of the site with U.S. EPA performing a small-scale dredging demonstration project in the North Bay area of Manistique Harbor. Some of the PRPs agreed to implement the capping remedy.
In fall 1995, U.S. EPA performed a small-scale dredging demonstration project during which it tested innovative dredging and treatment technologies using diver-assisted hydraulic dredging in the North Bay area. Several silt barriers were installed to minimize sediment releases from the dredging area and a treatment plant was constructed consisting of sediment screens, settling tanks and basins to separate sediments from the river water and return PCB-free water to the river. The treated water was tested prior to being discharged back into the river. Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediments were removed, dewatered and transported to an approved disposal site.
Due to cold weather, U.S. EPA had to suspend their dredging activities for the winter in November 1995. The diver-assisted dredging resumed in the North Bay area in May 1996. U.S. EPA plans to finish the North Bay area in 1996.
Early in 1996, U.S. EPA informed the PRPs that the work on the North Bay project had been successful and proposed changing the selected remedy for the rest of the AOC from capping to dredging. In a series of meetings held in Manistique, U.S. EPA’s Region 5 Director of Superfund told concerned citizens that the demonstration project had developed innovative containment, dredging and treatment technologies that could result in an environmentally sound dredging project. The project would be comparable to capping and would be cost effective.
The meetings resulted in a community-supported agreement between U.S. EPA and the PRPs under which the PRPs will provide funding for the expanded project equal to what it would cost to cap the harbor and maintain it for 30 years (estimated to be $6 million). U.S. EPA will provide additional funding over and above the PRPs’ contribution, if needed, to complete the cleanup. The PRPs also are providing in-kind services to support implementation of the remedy.
A Remedial Action Plan Update has been developed by the local community to address other impaired beneficial uses in the Area of Concern. This work, including fisheries habitat restoration and elimination of a combined sewer overflow, is in progress and will be completed in the near future.
In order to support environmental remediation and restoration efforts, local Public Advisory Councils (PACs) need to maintain a broad diversity of members. Here in Menominee we have been very successful in gaining and keeping participation from business and industry, sporting and fishing groups, environmental organizations, local government, boaters, educators, agency staff and others. This has proven invaluable not only in identifying our problems but in moving forward with implementation of remedial actions.
PACs are the primary mechanism for providing local leadership in guiding the Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) in each Area of Concern (AOC). The PACs establish goals and objectives for the RAP, identify priority actions, ensure effective community outreach and facilitate ongoing input and involvement from local citizens. PACs across the state have emphasized broad-based representation from throughout their local communities to help restore environmental quality in the AOC and its watershed. This approach is sensible, balanced, and avoids “finger pointing” while emphasizing an inclusive, community-based process for addressing environmental problems.
In Menominee, we were fortunate to have the advice of DNR/DEQ staff in both Michigan and Wisconsin in the early stages of our PAC organization. Staff helped us identify categories of membership and sought our advice as to who would best represent each category. In other communities, PACs started with a narrower membership base (often concerned, environmentally-aware citizens) that expanded to encompass a more inclusive membership base. Reports from PACs across the state show the importance of a diverse membership that can get the job done by bringing various areas of expertise and resources to the process.
More recently I have been quite encouraged by efforts to form PACs in Michigan’s two remaining AOCs without local RAP leadership groups, Torch Lake and Deer Lake, both in my native Upper Peninsula. Torch Lake, in particular, has benefited from a committed core group that is laying the foundation for a strong and inclusive PAC that will, no doubt, expedite environmental clean-up efforts in the community.
As we move forward and begin implementing actual clean-up plans in many of the AOCs, it seems to me that this diversification will be even more critical. With less funding and resources from state and federal government, local communities, citizens, businesses and government leaders are not only going to be where the action is, they will BE the action.
Threats to public health from environmental contamination have been a major focus of the RAPs; indeed, such threats were among the driving forces behind the RAP program when it was initiated in the early 1980s. Whether from contaminated sediments, nonpoint source pollution, combined sewer overflows or other sources, environmental contamination poses a potentially serious threat to the health of residents who live in or are exposed to Michigan’s Areas of Concern. Assessing the nature and scope of this threat is a significant challenge, however, requiring technical expertise and data resources with which many RAP participants may not be familiar.
To help communities address this challenge, the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Michigan Public Health Institute have created the Community Health Profiles Project, an effort to provide communities with the tools and training to assess the status of their health. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, modules are being developed to teach communities how to assess their health status, determine community priorities, set objectives, develop intervention strategies, implement a plan of action, and monitor and evaluate efforts on a continuing basis. The overall purpose of the process is to empower communities to assume responsibility for their local health needs and to influence the changes needed to improve health conditions.
One module being developed under the Community Health Profiles Project focuses on environmental health. The module provides a systematic breakdown on how to identify environmental health factors which may impact on human health. Data assessing issues such as land use, water, workplace conditions, food, waste, air, shelter and radiation are described, including where it may be obtained.
One of the first steps in the community health profile process is to define the community being assessed. There is no reason that an AOC could not define itself as a community, conduct an environmental health assessment, and incorporate the results into the RAP. Given their emphasis on local leadership and initiative, the RAPs are well positioned to engage in and benefit from this process. Moreover, such an effort would be consistent with the trend in the statewide AOC Program—and in government in general—to shift responsibilities to the local level.
Together with my project partners at the Michigan Public Health Institute, I will be looking for opportunities during the coming year to promote the Community Health Profile Project and facilitate its application in communities throughout Michigan. The public advisory councils in the state’s AOCs have a natural interest in the environmental health aspects of their RAPs and may be able to lead the assessment process at the local level. As the newly appointed liaison to the Statewide Public Advisory Council from the Department of Community Health, I will work with Council members, PAC leaders, MDEQ and others to arrange training and other opportunities to use the profile process to address environmental health concerns in Michigan’s AOCs.
For more information on the Community Health Profile Project, contact Elaine Beane at the Michigan Public Health Institute at (517) 349-2029. For more information on public health and the RAPs, see the related articles in this newsletter.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element and also is used in a variety of consumer, medical, electrical, dental and chemical applications. Mercury is primarily released into the atmosphere from combustion sources and enters water bodies through atmospheric deposition. In aquatic systems mercury can be converted into a persistent, bioaccumulative and potentially toxic form, known as methylmercury. Methylmercury bioaccumulates or builds up in fish tissue and may pose a potential risk to those who consume these contaminated fish. The unborn child is particularly sensitive to methylmercury poisoning and species of wildlife that consume large quantities of fish are also at risk from methylmercury poisoning.
Michigan has initiated a variety of activities to inform its citizens of this potential risk and has also undertaken a number of efforts to reduce mercury in the environment. The Michigan Department of Community Health issues fish consumption advisories for all of Michigan’s inland lakes and the Great Lakes, informing Michigan’s citizens on the recommended safe amounts of fish that can be consumed. It also offers a 1-800-MI-TOXIC line for fish consumption inquiries. Since 1988, a mercury fish consumption advisory has been in place for all of Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes, Lake St. Clair and for walleye longer than 22 inches from Lake Michigan.
The state of Michigan recognizes that the best way to manage environmental mercury contamination is to eliminate the sources of mercury waste. Avoiding generation of mercury wastes through pollution prevention will help protect the health of Michigan’s citizens and wildlife. In response to this need, Russell Harding, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), convened a Michigan Mercury Pollution Prevention (M2P2) Task Force in August 1994 to develop mercury pollution prevention recommendations for the state of Michigan. The M2P2 Task Force, chaired by Tracy Mehan, director of MDEQ’s Office of the Great Lakes, released its final report on April 22, 1996. The report summarizes the task force's accomplishments and outlines more than 50 specific recommendations for preventing mercury pollution. The recommendations are intended for users of mercury-containing products or devices, business, industry, state government and the general public.
A top priority of the M2P2 Task Force was that education and outreach are key to the implementation of mercury use reduction and minimization of anthropogenic (man-made) mercury released to the environment. The task force recommended that MDEQ be the lead agency on an aggressive, comprehensive statewide education/awareness campaign, but it noted that the effort would need to be decentralized. The report states that the most effective way to conduct outreach activities is at the local level. Currently, 10 out of 14 AOCs list mercury as one of the specific pollutants of concern, and, in at least three additional AOCs, mercury is above background concentrations in sediments but has not been linked to a specific problem.
The following activities could be implemented at the local level to further Michigan’s mercury pollution prevention efforts.
Copies of the final M2P2 Task Force report and additional brochures covering the information described above may be obtained by calling Joy Taylor, Air Quality Division, MDEQ at (517) 335-6974, or MDEQ’s Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278. The final report also is available by accessing the MDEQ-AQD home page.
The Oakland County Health Division has received the 1996 Director’s Award for Excellence in Local Public Health from the Michigan Department of Community Health for its two-year study of pollution problems associated with leaking on-site sewage disposal systems (septic systems) in the headwaters of the Rouge River in Farmington Hills and Southfield. The survey began in June 1994 as part of a public health partnership between the Rouge River Remedial Action Plan Advisory Council, the Southeast Michigan Health Association, the Rouge Program Office of the Wayne County Department of the Environment, and the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project, which funded the undertaking. The concept of partnerships in public health is critically important in the watershed community, which by its very nature encompasses multiple jurisdictions. Upstream communities bear responsibility for their stewardship of the resource and how it affects areas downstream.
College environmental health student interns were selected by the Oakland County Health Division’s Environmental Health Services to begin the project in June 1994. The students spent the first half of the summer performing electronic meter readings for dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity and temperature. They also collected water samples for bacteriological analysis and performed macro- invertebrate studies in each of the eight tributaries in the two cities.
Based on the data collected for water quality, areas of the river were then targeted for dye-testing using an innovative method developed by the Thurston County (Washington) Health Department and modified by Oakland County for a river environment. In the second half of the summer, packets containing activated charcoal were secured in the river near a home to be tested and fluorescein dye was then introduced into the septic system. The packets were retrieved the next week and the charcoal was placed in a jar and immersed in a potassium hydroxide solution. If the charcoal absorbed any of the dye it would be released into the solution creating a positive test. The data collected indicated 52 percent of 65 homes tested positive for some degree of sewage leaking into the river.
The project resumed in May 1995 with a new set of student sanitarians who, building upon the work of the previous summer, were able to expand the area of the study. Sixty-one more homes were tested and, of those, 39.3 percent were shown to be leaking effluent into the river. The two-year study suggests that in areas where aging on-site sewage disposal systems are prevalent an average of 45 percent can be expected to have a negative impact on the river by contributing to the contamination problem.
In November 1995, representatives of the Oakland County Health Division and MDEQ's Surface Water Quality Division met with officials from the cities of Southfield and Farmington Hills to begin developing solutions to the problem of aging on-site sewage disposal systems. The participants did not feel that a wholesale replacement of the septic systems was a good long-range solution to the contamination problem. Instead, they opted to pursue a plan to extend municipal sewers into the problem areas.
The goal of the two-year study was to determine the rate of leakage for existing on-site sewage disposal systems in the areas of poorest water quality in the headwaters of the Rouge River in Oakland County. That goal was achieved and is an accomplishment of the Remedial Action Plan process. Public awareness of septic tank maintenance and its impact on river ecosystems was enhanced.
The project also showed the value of student internship programs. Internships provide environmental health undergraduates with the opportunity to gain experience in the field of environmental health while completing their degree. That experience is crucial in the development of young professionals.
A part of the criteria for the Director’s Award is to show that the project can be applied in other areas of the state. In a separate public health partnership between the Macomb County Health Department and the Clinton River Watershed Council, with funding from MDEQ, the on-site sewage disposal system dye testing survey was duplicated in the Clinton River Watershed in 1995 with similar results. That project was coupled with a public outreach campaign and production of a video by a Macomb County cable television studio and the Clinton River Watershed Council, which aired on local public television.
The Director’s Award was presented to the Oakland County Health Division on August 27, 1996, by James Haveman, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, at the annual summer conference of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health in Traverse City. “The two-year study of the Rouge was a real team effort, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved for doing such an outstanding job,” said Rosemarie Rowney, Manager of the Oakland County Health Division. “Hopefully the work we have done will result in water quality improvements being made in the headwaters of the Rouge River so that people can again fully enjoy this once vibrant waterway.”
Enhancing the capability for PACs to plan and fund RAP actions was the focus of a series of workshops sponsored last spring by the SPAC. PAC members and other RAP participants from southern Michigan attended the workshop May 3 in Livonia, while those from the Upper Peninsula convened May 10 in Marquette.
The SPAC designed the workshops to provide practical training and information on funding and implementing PAC activities to meet RAP goals, emphasizing leadership at the local level.
Representatives from a variety of watershed management organizations discussed the project planning process and the key steps involved in implementing environmental projects. Using their successful efforts as case studies, they showed how they put plans into action. The speakers identified careful advanced planning, sound science, partnerships and collaborations, and public outreach and education as some important components of a successful project.
A panel of representatives from various funding organizations discussed strategies for identifying funding sources for RAP activities. Staff from the U.S. EPA, state of Michigan, Great Lakes Protection Fund and Council of Michigan Foundations reviewed the types of grant programs and related support they offer and how PACs can work with them to fund RAP efforts.
Some common recommendations were that PACs should carefully research potential funders to find those most likely to support their project; strictly adhere to application guidelines and provide all requested information; keep proposals brief and to the point; focus on the need being addressed and how the project will accomplish its goals; and maintain a generic proposal template, including organizational background and environmental problems, to enable quick responses to requests for proposals with tight deadlines.
Finally, the Council of Michigan Foundations provided hands-on grant writing training to give workshop participants the practical skills needed to prepare successful grant proposals for RAP activities. Reflecting on the workshop speakers, Stephen Albee of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission said, “Their suggestions and insight were practical and immediately useful to me.”
The participants also benefited from a companion workshop, sponsored by Great Lakes United the following day, which focused on strengthening PACs by building organizational development and public support.
Using resources from the workshops as well as other publications, and with grant support from MDEQ, the Great Lakes Commission has developed a Guide to Funding Sources for Michigan’s Remedial Action Plans (for details on the guide see the article below). For more information on the results of the workshops or to request a copy of the guide, contact Matt Doss, Great Lakes Commission, 313-665-9135, email@example.com.
Soliciting funding for RAP activities is among the most difficult challenges facing RAP participants. Funding cuts at the state and federal levels are compounding this challenge, increasing the importance of developing a diverse array of funding sources for RAPs. Identifying the full range of potential sources of support for RAP projects can be very difficult, however. While RAPs potentially are eligible for a wide variety of funding programs in both the public and private sector, there is no single, comprehensive publication listing these programs.
To help meet this challenge, the Great Lakes Commission has developed a Guide to Funding Sources for Michigan’s Remedial Action Plans as part of its MDEQ grant to support the SPAC. The guide describes the wide variety of lists, catalogs and reports that detail grant programs and other forms of assistance available from specific agencies, organizations and foundations. The guide also lists publications focused on fund raising, organizational development and other topics of interest to PAC members and other RAP participants.
The purpose of the guide is to assist PAC members, agency staff, local officials and other RAP participants in identifying the broadest possible array of potential sources of support for RAP activities. By listing these publications in one place, the guide will enable the RAP community to easily acquire and use them in identifying prospective sources of support for environmental restoration efforts in their Area of Concern.
The guide is available free of charge from the Great Lakes Commission. To request a copy, contact Matt Doss at (313) 665-9135; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new report, titled Incorporating Human Health Considerations Into Remedial Action Plans, is being released by the Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC). The report is part of a growing effort to integrate human health research findings into the RAP program. It is intended to help those working on RAPs in the Great Lakes and discusses some of the reasons for including human health considerations in RAPs, outlines some of the ways to do so, and lists some of the resources available. It reflects work conducted by the GLRC and the Lake Michigan Federation, in collaboration with researchers, representatives from Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and government agencies. Funding was provided by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the GLRC.
Copies of the report can be requested by contacting Jack Manno at the Great Lakes Research Consortium, 24 Bray Hall, 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210; phone (315) 470-6816, fax (315) 470-6970, email@example.com.
The 1996 Detroit River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Report was formally transmitted to IJC Co-chairs Thomas Baldini and Adele Hurley on August 27, 1996, by Tracy Mehan, director of MDEQ’s Office of the Great Lakes. The document had been previously endorsed by the U.S. members of the RAP Team, the technical work groups and the Binational Public Advisory Council (BPAC). Endorsement by the Canada/Ontario RAP Steering Committee is expected in the near future.
The RAP document was developed over the past four years with strong binational cooperation and the input of many individuals. Representatives from local, state, provincial and federal organizations and agencies, industry, and academia as well as individual citizens and stakeholders, were involved throughout development of the RAP. Water use goals (statements of what the river should be like after remediation), 104 recommendations and implementation information, as well as new and updated information from the stage 1 RAP are included in this iteration of the RAP.
The Detroit River RAP stakeholders, including agencies, BPAC and local organizations and industry, currently are discussing the various options for an implementation framework. Implementation activities are progressing on several fronts as these discussions progress. Members present at the July 30 meeting were briefed on several planned, ongoing and recently completed projects undertaken by either the Essex Region Conservation Authority, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department or the State of Michigan.
The Lake Michigan Federation’s two-year Community Health Project is nearing completion and will soon be available for use by Great Lakes communities. The pilot project, funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, was designed to provide tools to address environmental health concerns. The materials, easily modified for use in different communities, include: health care professional seminars on identification, diagnosis and treatment of environmentally-related illnesses, a guide and video on preventing exposures to everyday environmental hazards, and a telephone questionnaire to measure the level of public understanding and awareness of health and environment connections. To obtain the materials when they are completed, please call the Lake Michigan Federation at (616) 722-5116. The cost is $15 while quantities are available.
The environmental health of the Clinton River has been increasingly linked in the media and the public mind to its impacts on eastern Lake St. Clair. This is primarily due to pollution and public health problems from leaking septic systems and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and their impacts on beach closings and the resulting economic losses to beach recreation and boating- related businesses.
All four Lake St. Clair public beaches monitored by the Macomb County Health Department had closings this summer due to E. coli bacteria levels that exceeded health department standards. Metro Beach, which was closed for the entire 1994 summer season, was closed only two days and New Baltimore Beach was closed for five days. However, the two St. Clair Shores beaches were closed most of the summer: Civic Center for 77 days and Memorial Park for 129 days.
Thus, the problems of the Clinton River have been in the news due to the continued impacts of beach closings and health department restrictions on total body contact. Consequently, the operation and functioning of CSOs in St. Clair Shores and the Southeast Oakland County Sewage Disposal System (or Twelve Towns Retention Facility) have received considerable public and media interest. MDEQ hearings on renewal of the NPDES permit for the Twelve Towns Retention Facility were well attended by the public and received considerable interest and comment by local officials and extensive print and TV media coverage. The new permit included significant revisions in permit conditions and reporting requirements.
On July 30, 1996, nearly half of the members and alternates present, including the chair, walked out of the Detroit River Binational Public Advisory Council (BPAC) meeting that was intended to “approve” the RAP report written by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The walkout included citizen members from both Canada and the U.S., as well as university professors, chemical engineers and medical professionals.
A “Citizens Statement on the Detroit River RAP Report” was signed by 14 BPAC representatives and read by the chair prior to the walkout. This statement clearly identified the RAP process under Michigan’s eight-year leadership as being blatantly biased and the final RAP report, which took four years to prepare, as being wholly inadequate. The walkout was intended to raise these serious issues from a public interest perspective to U.S. and Canadian federal government officials and the International Joint Commission (IJC). As of this writing, however, not one person representing any federal government agency or the IJC has noticed.
Has the real goal of remediating the impaired uses of the Detroit River become overshadowed by the self-serving interests of government, apologists for industry and maintaining the status quo by municipalities? The members of BPAC who have consistently maintained a genuine desire to clean up the Detroit River believe a change is necessary. That change was prompted by MDEQ’s letter of November 1995 stating the need to move toward local leadership to improve environmental quality in the AOCs. As a result of that directive, the U.S. citizen members of the BPAC have taken a leadership role in establishing the Detroit River Remedial Action Council (DRRAC), which will serve as fiscal conduit for grants and awards to address the river's impaired beneficial uses. As a result of this initiative, articles of incorporation have been filed with the state of Michigan and bylaws are being drafted for the new organization. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month to continue working on DRRAC's organizational structure and to address the impaired beneficial uses of the Detroit River.
For more information on DRRAC, please contact Mary Ginnebaugh at (313) 676-1233.
The Kalamazoo River PAC/RAP is progressing well. Impaired uses have been identified and recommendations regarding additional problems associated with land use and fish consumption are being written. Roger Eberhardt, our RAP coordinator, is doing a fine job of keeping us informed of changes within the RAP program and recently attended a Wingspread conference along with Mark Jenness and Mary Powers to discuss problems and solutions with other affected communities in the Lake Michigan Basin.
Land use continues to be identified as one of the key issues negatively impacting the Great Lakes along with air deposition and the lack of cleanup standards for PCBs in sediments. In the state of Michigan each local unit of government has control over land use and zoning, which makes uniform standards for pollution prevention and improving water quality very difficult.
In an effort to support and encourage sustainable decision making by elected officials, planning and zoning commissions, health officials and others on the effects of their land-use decisions on land and water quality, the Kalamazoo River PAC, along with Kalamazoo County, U.S. EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Association of Counties (NaCo) and Michigan Association of Counties are sponsoring a national workshop October 17-18 in Kalamazoo titled "Management and Protection of Coastal and Great Lakes Waters: Tools for Local Governments." This workshop will assist decision makers and managers in recognizing the linkages between economic development, sustainable resource protection and water quality. Cost for the conference is $45 including lunches, receptions and a course book and supplementary documents for use in local areas. For more information, contact Mary Powers at (616) 345-9295 or Abby Friedman at NaCo at (202) 942-4225.
The Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) has been working closely with the Ruddiman Creek Task Force to encourage restoration and protection of Ruddiman Creek. Public outrage over raw sewage flowing into this Muskegon Lake tributary has prompted Muskegon city officials to launch an intense search for the source of the pollution, and the city’s 1997 budget proposed $50,000 to fund the effort. The increased testing comes four months after Muskegon County health officials posted signs along the creek urging people to avoid contact with the polluted water.
Although the creek has been polluted for decades by industrial discharges and sewage spills, recent tests, funded through the 1995 Muskegon Lake PAC, indicate ongoing sewage pollution. Creek bottom sediments also are loaded with massive amounts of toxic heavy metals and petroleum products. It is unknown what the past and present effects of these contaminants are on Muskegon Lake water and sediment quality. Box core sampling was done in Muskegon Lake near the mouth of Ruddiman Creek by the Lake Michigan Field Station of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. However, the samples have not been dated or analyzed due to a lack of research funding.
The Lake Michigan Field Station in Muskegon will house a research ship that will allow scientists to perform cutting-edge studies of Lake Michigan water quality. The R/V Halcyon, arriving in October, will monitor water quality and aquatic life. It could make Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Grand Haven one of the most thoroughly studied sections of Great Lakes waters. The vessel replaces the R/V Shenehon. The Halcyon will be faster and give scientists more time to perform research because it can work in rougher seas than the Shenehon.
The Muskegon and White Lake PACs, together with the cities of Muskegon and Montague and numerous other local partners, will soon embark on a greenbelt/erosion control project on Muskegon Lake’s Ryerson Creek and White Lake’s Montague Drain. The projects were chosen by U.S. EPA as a result of a request by MDEQ to provide ideas from Michigan’s local PACs. The Muskegon Conservation District has submitted a work plan to U.S. EPA and work will begin upon notification that the grant is approved.
The Raisin RAP PAC has been working on its RAP re-write and hopes to have it completed in October 1996. The issue of the PCB hot-spot remediation has been pushed back one more year because of an extremely wet spring and problems associated with determining an appropriate site for disposal of the PCB-contaminated sediments. PAC members have agreed that if the hot spot is not remediated in the spring of 1997 more vigorous action will be necessary.
In other matters, Ford Motor Company of Monroe has started construction of the 40-50 million dollar Lagoon Closure Project. This five-year project is designed to eliminate leaching of plating wastes into the River Raisin.
River Raisin PAC members are working on a resource handbook thanks to a $5,000 SPAC grant. The resource book will be distributed to Monroe County residents and use student art to provide information regarding recycling, waste disposal, water pollution, household hazardous waste, and numerous topics of interest to local residents. Corporations will be asked to contribute funds to reproduce the handbook.
Finally, the first of what the PAC hopes will be an annual River Raisin Clean-Up was held on September 7, 1996. Approximately 60 volunteers cleaned up three city blocks of the river in downtown Monroe, removing about 30 cubic yards of material.
MDEQ’s Waste Management Division has developed a pollution prevention guide for salvage yard operators in the Rouge Watershed. This comprehensive document is designed to help educate salvage yard operators on ways of reducing their impact on the Rouge River. These guidelines could be used in other watersheds.
The Rouge RAP Advisory Council (R-RAC) subcommittees have been hard at work on a number of initiatives. The Contaminated Sites Subcommittee is developing a library packet to educate watershed residents about contaminated sites and human health effects. The Headwaters Subcommittee will be providing wetlands maps to headwater community planning departments. The Habitat Subcommittee is finalizing plans to implement a habitat survey in one sub-watershed of the basin. It is hoped the survey will be a model for similar studies in the future. The On-Site Sewage Disposal Subcommittee is working with the environmental health directors of Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties as well as the Rouge Project to develop a watershed-wide septic tank maintenance policy.
On August 21 Bill Creal of the MDEQ gave a presentation to the R-RAC on areas of the Rouge that do not meet water quality standards. He also announced that the most pristine tributary of the Rouge Watershed, Johnson Creek, will be named as a Michigan Designated Trout Stream.
The Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed (PSBW) River Monitoring Program, also called the “WETNET,” has finished correlating the results of the spring 1996 testing. This program, guided by Tim Wheatley, is a cooperative school water quality monitoring and data management program emphasizing hands-on learning, environmental stewardship and interactive computer mapping on the Internet.
The results are posted on the Internet and include testing results from lakes, ponds, rivers/streams, drains/ditches and wetlands throughout the watershed. The test parameters include pH, DO, BOD, nitrates, phosphates, temperature, total solids, turbidity and fecal coliform.
Entities involved in the WETNET Project include seven different agencies and groups and over 80 schools. The fall 1996 testing program is now getting underway. To access the WETNET on the Internet from a gopher server go to the following address: mammatus.sprl. umich.edu in the directory curriculum_ materials/water_quality/saginaw_Bay. iif. From the World Wide Web or Netscape go to the following address: http://gamstcweb.gisd.k12.mi.us:8000/~twheatle/ or http://188.8.131.52/"dizon/wetnet.htm.
To become part of the WETNET Project, or to receive more information, contact project coordinator Tim Wheatley at Goodrich Middle/High Schools, 8029 S. Gale Rd., Goodrich, MI 48438, phone (810) 636-2253, fax (810) 636-2550, e-mail twheatle@ genesee freenet.org.
The PSBW currently has a grant application pending to revitalize and expand its Adopt-A-Stream Program. Several small projects have been completed over the summer months. Of particular note is the Storm Drain Stenciling Project that was completed in the Midland area in early September.
The PSBW is working jointly with MDNR/MDEQ to revise portions of the Saginaw River/Bay RAP document. One section, in particular, contained wording which seemed to indicate—wrongly—that the PSBW supported a proposal to remove all dams in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The brevity of the statement fails to consider the impact this action would have on fisheries, downriver properties, riparian properties located on the impoundments, recreational uses and tourism. An additional concern is the suggestion that the decision process may preclude any public or local governmental input. The PSBW Board of Directors hopes to resolve this issue during the next few months.
Finally, the PSBW is pleased to announce, on behalf of the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (MLSA), Inc., a MLSA Region 7 seminar to be held on October 12, 1996 in Gladwin, MI. The seminar will address topics involving current lake and stream conditions in the region, riparian rights and watershed management issues and techniques. For more information contact Dennis Zimmerman at (517) 588-9343.
Progress in remediation efforts in the Torch Lake AOC have been slow but steady. All necessary permits are now in place for completion of a fish spawning reef that will also help combat continued erosion at one of the stampsand deposits in the lake. Construction should begin this fall.
Osceola Township has received a $25,000 grant from U.S. EPA to plan a two-acre, interpretive park on the stampsands near Mason. Part of the Superfund site, this project merges site remediation with historic preservation, a unique approach to saving historically significant artifacts while cost- effectively remediating an environmentally damaged area.
Utilizing funds provided by MDEQ, the Houghton-Keweenaw Soil and Water Conservation District has initiated several projects in cooperation with local groups. They include the purchase of educational materials for demonstrating how erosion control will be used in remediating stamp-sands and lake bottom sediments; equipment purchases for two local libraries to assist them in making AOC information readily available to the public; support for the Keweenaw Waterway Trail Association in developing low-impact boating campsites along the Keweenaw Waterway; and logistical support for the formation of a local Public Action Committee (PAC).
Torch Lake is one of two AOCs in Michigan without a PAC to help involve the community in remediation of the AOC. A PAC Formation Committee has been working hard since June to establish a PAC member nomination process and hopes to have the PAC established in October. To date, efforts have been well received by the general public, although some local governmental units have expressed some concerns. We hope these concerns will be allayed as they become more familiar with the RAP process and concepts of stakeholder representation. The committee’s goal is to have a fully functional PAC by September 1997.
The White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) is pleased to have new community partners. A group of local researchers has recently been given $150,000 by U.S. EPA to examine the extent of heavy metal contamination in White Lake and to study its effects on fish and other aquatic organisms. The researchers, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and the Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University, will involve the White Lake PAC in the study. A member of the PAC will assist the sampling program and the researchers will report regularly to the PAC.
A 1982 study by the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission concluded that heavy metal contamination was extensive across much of White Lake. Another study conducted in 1994 by MDEQ and U.S. EPA identified pollutants from a local tannery, Whitehall Leather Company, as contributing to contaminated sediments surrounding the tannery. Additional information is needed, however. The new study, scheduled to begin this fall, will accomplish the following:
Representative: William Smith, Mt. Clemens
Alternate: Spencer V. Teller, Shelby Township
Representative: James Russell-Parks, Marquette
Alternate: Philip Doepke, Marquette
Representative: Mary Ginnebaugh, Grosse Ile
Alternate: Richard Armstrong, Detroit
Representative: Mary Powers, Kalamazoo
Alternate: Robert Beck, Hopkins
Representative: Leif Christensen, Manistique
Alternate: Merilee Blowers, Manistique
Representative: Nancy Douglas (Chair), Menominee
Alternate: George Rogers, Menominee
Representative: Kathleen Evans, Muskegon
Alternate: Roland Crummel, Muskegon
Representative: Vivian Brighton, Hudson
Alternate: Dan Stefanski, Monroe
Representative: Keith Krinn (Vice Chair), Pontiac
Alternate: Orin Gelderloos, Dearborn
Representative: Dennis Zimmerman, Lake George
Alternate: Charles Lyon, Frankenmuth
St. Clair River
Representative: Bob Spagnoli, Fort Gratiot
(313) 845-8037 (w)
Alternate: Joe Gallagher, Port Huron
St. Marys River
Representative: Marvin Besteman, Rudyard
Alternate: Jarl Hiltunen, Sault Ste. Marie
Representative: James A. Spence, Dollar Bay
Alternate: Robert T. Brown, Houghton
Representative: Tanya Cabala, Whitehall
Alternate: Thomas E. Hamilton, Montague
This Michigan Areas of Concern newsletter is financed through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
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