Final Issue of the Macatawa Watershed Explorer
Watershed Program Changes
2021 Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting
2021 Annual Report Highlights
Social Survey Results
Nature-Based Solutions for Water Quality
2022 Summer Watershed Internships
As of October 1, 2021, the MACC no longer manages the Macatawa Watershed Project (see next article). As such, this will be the last issue of the MACC’s quarterly watershed newsletter. If you want to continue to stay informed about issues and opportunities in the watershed, then you do not have to do anything. Future newsletters about the watershed will be sent from the ODC Network, and everyone on the MACC’s email list will be automatically included. If you no longer wish to receive updates about the Macatawa Watershed, send an email to Kelly at email@example.com and request that your email be removed. Thank you for your continued support of the Macatawa Watershed!
After many years of collaboration, the MACC has entered into an agreement with the ODC Network to manage the Macatawa Watershed Project. The Macatawa Watershed Project (MWP), housed at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council since 2000, officially joined the ODC Network on October 1. Kelly Goward, the MACC’s Environmental Program Manager since 2012, became a member of ODC’s Project Clarity team and now serves as the ODC Watershed Manager.
The MWP began as a way for local communities to partner on improving Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. This was in response to findings by the state and EPA that the lake contained extremely high levels of suspended sediment and phosphorus. The MWP has worked towards improving the lake by addressing issues such as stormwater, agriculture, land use, monitoring, and education. The ODC and the Macatawa River Greenway have partnered closely with the MWP over the years, hosting events such as the Macatawa Water Festival and River Cleanups, educating students and community leaders on water-related topics, and collaborating on research efforts with partners like Hope College and Grand Valley State University. In addition, Kelly and the MWP have worked closely with the ODC on Project Clarity, the initiative to significantly improve water quality in the watershed. MWP staff have served on advisory boards, provided input on plans and helped communicate progress to government partners. This collaboration resulted in a myriad of successful projects implemented in our watershed over the past eight years, including restored wetlands, stabilized streams, soil-saving agricultural projects, and greener stormwater infrastructure. By joining the MWP with Project Clarity, we will streamline many projects and collaborations, allowing greater gains for the watershed.
In her new role at ODC, Kelly will continue managing all existing MACC grants and working closely with our local communities on stormwater permitting and compliance, ensuring that we update and improve existing and future infrastructure. Her skills as a grant writer, project coordinator, and educator will be great assets to the ODC team and create additional connections to regional water experts. Kelly is working out of DeGraaf Nature Center, where she will work closely with ODC’s greenway, conservation, and sustainability efforts. This team will collaborate to make our area a more vibrant and ecologically sustainable place for current and future generations. Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The MACC, in partnership with the ODC Network, held the 2021 Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting on December 9, 2021 at the Herrick District Library. The meeting featured presentations from two groups of Hope College Advanced Environmental Science students, monitoring updates from Hope College and Grand Valley State University, and highlights of 2021 watershed accomplishments.
The team of Garrett Peck and Kailey Hoving examined populations of microcystins, the cyanobacertia that can cause harmful algae blooms, in Lake Macatawa. They did find microcystins in samples they analyzed and concluded that their presence may be most affected by water temperature (higher populations at higher temperatures). They suggested that further investigation was necessary to determine correlations with factors they did not measure, like phosphorus, and to sample in other seasons throughout the watershed. The team of Rene Aerts and Caroline Burkhardt examined heavy metals in construction site runoff. This study built on work completed by Hope College students in previous classes looking at heavy metals in fish tissue. While they were able to detect all metals they tested for in sediment samples (lead, iron, copper and cadmium), no samples exceeded environmental levels of concern (no limit set for iron). They concluded that construction sites are not a significant source of heavy metal contamination in the watershed. However, they did observe a general lack of controls implementation at construction sites to prevent sediment runoff. Copies of student presentations can be viewed here.
The MACC and ODC Network were also pleased to present the 2021 Macatawa Watershed Stakeholder of the Year Award to Dykhuis Farms, Inc. Dykhuis Farms is a long-time supporter of the Macatawa Watershed. They have been implementing on-farm conservation to protect water quality almost since the Watershed Project started over 20 years ago. They continually embrace new technologies and ways to improve their operation, from incorporating cover crops, managing residue, constructing grassed waterways, to investing in equipment. More recently, they agreed to pilot a new system for removing phosphorus from tile drain effluent in some of their fields. In 2021, they hosted the Cultivating Resilience Farm Field Day and helped create an educational and enjoyable experience for all attendees. They also hosted Hope College Watershed Camp teachers and students for tours to learn about their farm operation and conservation efforts.
Left photo: Hope College students (left to right) Garrett Peck, Kailey Hoving, Rene Aerts and Caroline Burkhardt. Right photo: Kelly Goward, ODC Watershed Manager (left) and Dan Callam, ODC Greenway Manager (center), present the Watershed Stakeholder of the Year Award to Joe Dykhuis, President of Dykhuis Farms, Inc. (right).
We will use this information to develop an updated management plan for the Macatawa Watershed over the coming months. The management plan is an outline for restoration efforts within the Macatawa Watershed and helps show state and federal grantors what our priorities are when it comes to competing for grant funding.
Interested in providing input on the plan? Connect with Kelly to learn more: email@example.com
In the world of water quality and stormwater management, we toss around a lot of terminology like best management practices and green stormwater infrastructure. A new term, nature-based solutions, is starting to be used more. So what do all of these words mean?!? Here are the basic definitions:
Best Management Practices (BMPs) – an action or combination of actions that are effective and practical for reducing pollution. BMPs can be policies, like stormwater ordinances, or physical installations, like rain gardens.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) – a subset of BMPs that filters and absorbs rainwater where it falls. It includes practices with plants, like green roofs or rain gardens, and those without, like permeable pavers.
Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) – actions that protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges while benefit both people and wildlife. NBS can include BMPs and GSI, but also takes into account additional community impacts like restoring wildlife habitat and improving air quality.
In many cases, NBS for water quality will include some type of GSI with a preference for practices that use native plants to capture and infiltrate stormwater while providing habitat or other benefits. NBS can be applied in almost any setting, including at home and at work.
If you want to explore more about using NBS at home or work, ODC Network staff and volunteers are available to conduct site assessments and make recommendations. Visit https://outdoordiscovery.org/conservation-services/ to learn more or to request an assessment.