Back for the third year in a row on Windmill Island, we hope you can join us for the Macatawa Water Festival on Saturday, July 15th. Designed to get families and children engaged with Lake Macatawa, local waterways and watershed, the festival will feature hands-on activities and educational exhibits from over two dozen partners from around the area. Opportunities include kayaking, fishing (17 and under), biking, upcycling and recycling crafts, and other water related games and activities.
The festival is free thanks to our presenting sponsor Meijer, and our hosting partners at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and the Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute. Please consider joining us, we hope to see you there!
Volunteers are needed to make this event possible. If you are interested in volunteering, visit bit.ly/ODCfestival to see the openings and sign up. You can also visit OutdoorDiscovery.org or call 616-393-9453 for more information.
We are so excited and thankful to have two fantastic Grand Valley State University students helping us at the MACC this summer! They will be helping with office tasks like GIS mapping and data entry as well as in the field with road-stream crossing inventories and macro invertebrate surveys. Check out more about them below!
Madeline: “I have lived in Holland near Lake Macatawa my whole life. Exploring Michigan’s many beaches and forests has always made me curious about the environment. I started at GVSU in 2013, and was undecided about what I wanted to study. In my sophomore year I discovered natural resources management, and later added on minors in biology and photography. I plan to graduate spring 2018. After graduation I hope to get involved in community outreach and education around the environment.”
Tony: “I was born and raised in the southeast area outside of Grand Rapids. I’m now a senior at GVSU majoring in Natural Resources Management. I also have another gig this summer at the Sustainable Agriculture Project on campus, an organic farm focused on sustainable agriculture that is run by and developed for their community and students. At the MACC I will be helping with the Macatawa Watershed Project. My responsibilities will vary from volunteering at community events to going out and gathering stream data. My ambition is to work in the field with an international non-profit organization, helping build communities in the environmental perspective.”
You may have noticed by now that we like to use abbreviations and acronyms. GLRI, GLC, and MACC are just a few. My personal favorite is WASCOB. It is fun to say and it plays an important role in the watershed. But what is a WASCOB?
WASCOB stands for Water and Sediment Control Basin. WASCOBs can be a series of or single earthen berms placed in locations to slow down and contain a concentrated flow of water. Water forms a pool behind these berms and an outlet pipe lets the water drain slowly while letting sediment settle out of the water and into the WASCOB’s basin. WASCOBs can come in a variety of sizes. WASCOBs in our watershed are commonly designed to contain the water from a 10 year rain event covering an area of 40 to 50 acres. The Macatawa Watershed is known as being very “flashy”. The surrounding land area sheds water very quickly causing creeks and streams to rise and lower rapidly This sudden rise in water volume causes a substantial amount of erosion to stream and creek banks as well as erosion on the surrounding land area. A WASCOB is one of the tools used to slow the water down and perhaps combat the watershed’s flashiness.
This spring the MACC worked with a local farmer and Holland Engineering Inc. to design and construct a WASCOB integrated with an adjoining grassed waterway (a stable, vegetated channel that conveys water across a field). The location of this WASCOB provided a unique opportunity because the flow path was concentrated and allowed for a very distinct visible basin. The WASCOB captures runoff from an area of nearly 50 acres. The existing grassed waterway suffered from severe erosion and was reconstructed to allow overland flow into the waterway. The waterway was also designed to allow the farmer to move equipment from one side to the other improving the efficiency by which he is able to work his land.
The MACC is continuing to look for farmers and landowners who are willing to partner on more of these long-term solutions. Staff from the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway and Project Clarity continue to be strong partners with the MACC in this initiative. Together we are engaging farmers in the watershed and working to design and implement solutions that provide a water quality benefit to Lake Macatawa as well as providing benefits to the farmer or landowner. For more information on projects like WASCOBs and grassed waterways, contact the MACC’s Agricultural Technician, Rob Vink.
It can be tricky to monitor and keep track of lakes. They tend to be quite big, leading to different conditions in different parts of the lake. Their conditions can change pretty rapidly, too, looking totally different in a short span of time. This can at times make them difficult to evaluate, since water conditions and quality can wax and wane over the course of the year.
Currently, GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute conducts sampling on Lake Macatawa four times a year. At several locations around the lake, they look at physical and chemical parameters of the water, along with monitoring aquatic life such as fish, algae, and duckweed. Hope College’s Day1 Watershed program also has been collecting water quality and microbial data at a number of sites around the watershed, including lake and stream sites.
The Outdoor Discovery Center has recruit ed a group of volunteers to help with two of these measurements. Water depth and water color provide a quick indication of water conditions and clarity, and are pretty easily measured by non-scientists. Depth is measured using a secchi disc, named for an Italian priest who invented it. This black and white disk is lowered into the water until its contrasting colors are no longer visible. Secchi discs have been used by MACC volunteers for over a decade, recording data at a few sites along the lake. This project expands the number of sites to a dozen, and includes color measurement for the first time. Color over the white part of the secchi disc is noted using a Forel-Ule color chart. Twenty-one colors, ranging from blue to green to brown, are displayed. Visitors to this year’s Water Festival will have the opportunity to create their own secchi disks for your local body of water.
By utilizing volunteers on projects like this and our macroinvertebrate monitoring, Project Clarity partners are able to analyze and greatly expand the amount of data collected over the course of a year, providing a better picture of how conditions in the lake are changing. This will prove to be important information for lake management in the coming years.
Stormwater runoff, or the rain water that runs over the ground, is the most common source of pollution of streams, rivers and lakes. Rain water washes over all land surfaces including driveways, parking lots, lawn, farm fields, and forests, and can pick up and wash away various types of pollution. Some types of pollution that can be washed away by rain includes excess fertilizer, grass clippings, manure (including from pets!), oil and gas from leaky cars, and soil from gravel roads or bare areas. While not directly related to stormwater, residential car washing is another source of pollution in the Macatawa Watershed.
Many people wash their own car instead of using a commercial car wash facility. This presents a problem because some car owners wash their car in a way that could harm the environment. Some people wash cars on their driveway where the dirty wash water—composed of soap, detergent, gasoline, oil, grease, and toxic metals—flows down into storm drains. Unlike the sanitary sewer, the water that flows into storm drains is not treated at the waste water plant before it enters nearby creeks and streams. Water quality is negatively impacted, which can impair wildlife habitat and threaten local wildlife.
What can you do?
Want to get your hands dirty, learn about your local watershed and have fun at the same time? There are lots of way to get involved in helping to monitor, protect and cleanup the Macatawa Watershed!
There are several types of annual volunteer opportunities offered including:
If you are not already part of our volunteer list, contact Kelly Goward at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up! The MACC greatly appreciates the efforts of volunteers and is committed to making volunteer experiences fun and safe for all involved. We provide all equipment, training and make sure there is enough bug spray, sunscreen, foo and water to keep everyone happy!