Summer 2019

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Table of Contents

Macatawa Water Festival
2019 Making the Case for Green Infrastructure
Welcome Summer Interns
Stormwater Inspections
Summer 2019 Agricultural Update
Project Clarity Update
New Boating Law Effective 2019

Macatawa Water Festival

Saturday, July 13, 9am-2pm, Windmill Island

For the fifth year in a row, the Macatawa Water Festival, presented by Meijer, will be held on Holland’s Windmill Island. Over 20 community partners and sponsors will come together to offer water activities and educational experiences designed to engage people of all ages to learn about restoring and preserving our lake and watershed.

Kayak or bike around the island, fish for trout (youth under 17 years old), learn about native and invasive plants, make an upcycled craft and perform water quality experiments. Meijer will provide fresh fruit from local farmers!

Volunteers are welcome! Please sign up at bit.ly/ODCMacWaterFestival or contact Ashley Van Zee at ashley@outdoordiscovery.org or 616-368-9289 for more information

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2019 Making the Case For Green Infrastructure

Thursday, August 15, 8:30am-3:15pm, Holland Civic Center Place

For the third year in row, the MACC is hosting a seminar to learn more about and discuss green stormwater infrastructure. The seminar will include presentations about:

  • The Role of Green Infrastructure in Coastal Resiliency
  • The Great Lakes Commission Green Infrastructure Champions Program
  • Groundwater Recharge in Ottawa County
  • Design, Installation and Maintenance Considerations when using Native Plants

The seminar will also include several hands-on learning stations, a panel discussion of case studies and numerous exhibitors.

Registration is now open. Regular registration rates are $50 through July 25 and late registration will be $65 through August 8. Discounted rates are available for students.

Click Here for more information or to register.

Seminar sponsors: Outdoor Discovery Center Network – Project Clarity and the Ottawa County Water Resources Commissioner.

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Welcome Summer Interns

The MACC is pleased to welcome two interns to our staff this summer! They will spend most of the summer in the field, weather permitting. They will be leading volunteer road-stream crossing inventories, conducting stormwater inspections and assisting MACC staff at various community events.

Ali

My name is Ali Townsend and this summer I will be working as a Macatawa Watershed Intern for the MACC. I am a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Geography and Environmental Studies. This summer I will be spending two weeks in the Netherlands for my studies, as well as some time in Germany and Austria. In my free time I enjoy doing yoga, making art, and being outdoors.

Alex

My name is Alex Pittman and this summer I am a Macatawa Watershed Intern with MACC. I am currently a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Geography, Environmental Studies, Geographic Information Systems, and Sustainable Urban Planning. When I am not working I like to go climbing, hunting, fishing, hiking or anything that gets me outdoors.

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Stormwater Inspections

One task that MACC Watershed Interns will be completing this summer is stormwater inspections. More specifically, they will conduct dry-weather inspections of Ottawa County-owned storm sewer system endpoints, also known as discharge points. Discharge points are the location at which the county-owned system ends and enters a water of the state (river or lake) or another storm sewer system owned by someone else, like the City of Holland. The purpose of this dry weather screening is to look for potential illicit discharges, which is anything that is not composed entirely of stormwater.

Storm sewer systems are designed for one purpose: to collect and convey stormwater to drains, streams and lakes. Storm sewer systems should not transport any solid or liquid material other than rain water that washed off the surface of the land. However, illicit discharges not composed entirely of stormwater may sometimes end up in the storm sewer system. This can occur accidentally, such as through a broken septic system line, or intentionally, through an illegally connected septic or sanitary sewer line or direct dumping of waste. Since storm sewer systems are only supposed to carry stormwater, we would not expect to find anything coming out of the end point during dry weather. Therefore, inspecting storm sewer discharge points during dry weather can help to identify illicit discharges. Once identified, the responsible party is notified and made to correct the situation to ensure that illicit discharges do not continue to pollute our waterways.

Ottawa County, and other storm sewer system owners, are required under their state stormwater permits to conduct dry weather screening of their storm sewer system at least once every five years. They are required to follow a specific procedure to document what they find, including taking samples and testing if there is a flow of water present. Inspectors will also look for signs of previous illicit discharges or dumping, such as staining on the storm sewer pipe, trash or unnatural odors.

The MACC’s two interns will conduct inspections throughout the Macatawa Watershed and two additional interns will conduct inspections in the other urban areas of Ottawa County (Grand Haven/Spring Lake and Jenison/Hudsonville). You may see them out in the field along road sides, streams or near ponds in subdivisions looking for discharge points. Some discharge points may be located on private property, but there is always an easement granted to the Ottawa County Water Resources Commissioner. The interns have permission to access the discharge points through these easements. If you see a couple young adults in orange vests with an iPad snooping in your backyard, it is likely one of our teams of interns looking for a discharge point. If you get a chance, go out and say hi and ask them how it’s going!

Examples of illicit discharges. Remember: only rain down the drain!

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Summer 2019 Agricultural Update

By Rob Vink, MACC Agricultural Technician

Rain and cool temperatures have plagued the watershed over the month of May. Farmers throughout the watershed and the Midwest struggled to get crops planted on time. Planting into wet soils can create a variety of concerns. Compaction from equipment tires can create long term issues within a field. When planting into wet soil, we also see compaction in the side wall of the seed trench that affects seed germination and emergence. When plants are slow to emerge or placed under stress, the final yield of the crop is impacted.  Planting into dry soil conditions allows for proper seed to soil contact that is firm but not compacted, allowing the seed to emerge properly.

Seed varieties are often grouped and categorized by maturity date. For example, you may hear a farmer say they are planting a 90 day or a 100 day variety. This refers to approximate date at which that crop will reach maturity. The date can vary depending on a number of factors mostly related to the weather. The maturity date of a seed hybrid does not necessarily correlate to the number of days at which a plant can be harvested. Most crops are harvestable after the plant has died and dried down to a certain percent of moisture. When the growing season is shortened by a delayed planting, a shorter day variety can help, but is not always the golden ticket.

A term we hear from farmers and in some news coverage is “prevented plant”. But what does that term mean? According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), prevented plant “is a failure to plant an insured crop with the proper equipment by the final planting date designated in the insurance policy’s Special Provisions or during the late planting period, if applicable.” RMA administers the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) which provides federally backed insurance policies to farmers in order to provide “market-based risk management tools to strengthen the economic stability of agricultural producers and rural communities”. Farmers are able to purchase these policies from approved private insurance providers.

The seemingly never ending talk of tariffs and trade have had a significantly negative impact on grain prices. Farmers are not able to set the price at which their products are sold. Prices are determined by market demand and are easily devalued with a Tweet. Take low prices, add a delayed planting plus your normal cost associated with planting a crop and there is very little profit margin.

We will continue to work with farmers in the watershed to implement conservation practices that are not only good for water quality but can also help mitigate the issues associated with wet weather. We are currently working with a variety of partners to plan a field day where we will address the growing concern over the more common wet springs we are experiencing.  We want to show farmers that implementing certain conservation practices on their farms is not only good for the environment, but can improve the ability to plant a crop under fluctuating weather conditions while improving the bottom line.

Wet fields are a typical site throughout the watershed this spring

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Project Clarity Update

By Dan Callam, Outdoor Discovery Center Network

Final survey work has been completed for the Peters Creek restoration project, with construction slated for the middle of July. The project will feature stabilized and reconstructed streambanks as well as an improved pathway system around the site.

Numerous partners are collaborating on a type of project brand new to West Michigan that may yield a promising tool in the fight against phosphorus water pollution. Two iron slag filters were installed on local farm fields to address high concentrations of dissolved phosphorus leaving fields through underground tile drains. While water flowing through tile drains tends to have less sediment (and phosphorus bound to sediment) than water running off the surface, some tiles can have high concentrations of dissolved phosphorus, which can be an important contributor to nuisance algae blooms.

These new phosphorus filters use iron slag, leftover from steel-making processes, to chemically bind the excess phosphorus before it reaches streams, similar to phosphorus binding to metals that naturally occurs in the soil. The slag is stored in a tank set up similarly to that found in a septic system, with water flowing from a tile line through the box before reaching the waterway with significantly lower phosphorus levels. The expected lifetime for these tanks range from five to ten years, depending on the size and type of slag used. Once the slag in the tank has reached its life expectancy, the slag can be dug out and replaced.

Inlet pipes being laid in the bottom of the filter. Drainage water enters at the bottom, moves up through the iron slag material and leaves in a pipe near the top (not pictured) that leads to a nearby surface drain.

The Outdoor Discovery Center Network has been working with Dykhuis Farms, Plant Tuff, the United States Department of Agriculture, Purdue University, Brink Farms Trucking, and the Annis Water Resources on this project.  Major funding support came from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. We will work to install several more of these filters this year, and work with our partners to evaluate how broadly we can use these filters to help reduce phosphorus pollution in our watershed.

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New Boating Law Effective 2019

New requirements to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

IT’S THE LAW:

  • Do NOT launch or transport watercraft or trailers unless they are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.
  • Do NOT transport a watercraft without removing all drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.
  • Do NOT release unused bait into the water.

FOLLOW THESE STEPS:

  • CLEAN boats, trailers and equipment.
  • DRAIN live wells, bilges and all water by pulling drain plugs.
  • DRY boats and equipment.
  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash.

For more information click here

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