Winter 2018

Click here to view a pdf of the full newsletter

Table of Contents

2018 Watershed Stakeholder of the Year
Hope College Student Research Presentations
Agricultural Program Year in Review
Macatawa Watershed Project Annual Report Highlights
Cold Weather Care for Clean Water

2018 Watershed Stakeholder of the Year

Since 2001, the Macatawa Watershed Stakeholder of the Year award has been presented annually to a person(s), entity or organization who has been a particularly strong supporter of the Macatawa Watershed Project or played an important role in advancing the water quality goals of the Macatawa Watershed Project.

The 2018 award was presented to Rick Bosch on December 6th to recognize his continuing years of volunteer work for the MACC and other organizations that are working to improve the Macatawa Watershed.

Rick has volunteered with the MACC for several years, participating in our Watershed Advisory Committee and volunteering for river cleanups, macroinvertebrate monitoring and road-stream crossing inventories. He also spent many hours in our office archiving historic reports, research and other documents about the Macatawa Watershed.

With the Outdoor Discovery Center and Project Clarity, Rick volunteers at Water Festival and participates in citizen science, collecting weekly water quality readings at Paw Paw Park. Dan Callam, Green Manager at the Outdoor Discovery Center said that Rick “is definitely an above average volunteer with both his background and service hours.”

With Ottawa County Parks, Rick is the Park Monitor and Park Steward for Paw Paw Park. There he has mapped and removed invasive species and makes great management recommendations. He discovered several new invasive populations, including phragmites. Rick rallied his home owners association, Villas of Holland, to adopt Paw Paw Park, and he personally recruited volunteers for several workdays. He also brought a serious erosion issue on the Macatawa River to the Parks Department’s attention. Beyond Paw Paw Park, Rick volunteers at parks throughout the County, including several workdays with students. He also serves on the board of the Friends of Ottawa County Parks where he advocates for the parks and other natural resources organizations within the community. Congratulations, Rick, and thank you for your continued service within the Macatawa Watershed!

Back to Table of Contents

Hope College Student Research Presentations

Four groups of Hope College Advanced Environmental Seminar students presented the results of their semester long research projects on December 6 at the Macatawa Watershed Annual Meeting. All student groups focused on some aspect of heavy metals. Copies of their presentations are available here. Full research reports will be posted once received.

Hope College Advanced Environmental Seminar students. Front row (from left): Samuel Click, Jacob Stid, Kaitlyn Caltrider, Alex Donaldson, Elizabeth Morehead, and Sandra Brookhouse. Back row (from left): Liam Kleinheksel, Ian Gorgenson, Analise Sala, Jared Jaent, Cleveland Tarp, and Andrew Klein.

The team of Andrew Klein, Analise Sala and Cleveland Tarp looked at heavy metals concentrations in catfish and perch in Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa River. They caught fish from five locations in Lake Macatawa and one location in the Macatawa River. They measured concentrations of copper, lead, cadmium, and iron in each fish. They compared their results to recommended exposure levels and looked for relationships between concentrations and species, and concentrations and location. For all metals except iron, they did find elevated levels in fish tissue. No correlations were found between concentration and species or location. The MACC will continue to work with local partners to determine if further study of this issue and subsequent action is necessary.

The team of Sandra Brookhouse, Kaitlyn Caltrider and Samuel Click evaluated the effectiveness of different materials at removing heavy metals from stormwater runoff. In a laboratory setting, they poured different known concentrations of heavy metals through tubes filled with soil and other materials, specifically vermiculite and hugelkultur, and measured the concentrations of heavy metals in the liquid after it filtered through the tubes. They found that both vermiculite and hugelkultur removed heavy metals from the solution to levels well below recommended drinking water exposure. They are optimistic that these materials could be used to help remediate heavy metals in stormwater runoff.

The team of Alex Donaldson, Ian Gorgenson and Jared Jaent looked at concentrations of heavy metals in drinking water and the soil around Hope College’s Campus. The first part of their project involved testing drinking water from 10 locations for the presence of lead and copper. When they did not find any heavy metals present in any of their samples, they turned their focus to heavy metals in soils. Pipe corrosion had been an issue at the Western Theological seminar and they were curious how this may have an impact on the surrounding soils and potentially groundwater. They focused on copper lead and iron and did not find any concentrations in the soil above the recommended limit for exposure.

The team of Liam Kleinheksel, Elizabeth Morehead and Jacob Stid investigated the uptake of heavy metals by a few common garden vegetables. This could be a concern in urban areas contaminated with heavy metals where urban farming is becoming more popular. The looked at uptake of copper, lead and cadmium by radishes, spinach and arugula. In a laboratory setting, they simulated rainfall events with water that contained various concentrations of the 3 metals. At high concentrations of cadmium and copper, they did see uptake of heavy metals above the recommended exposure rate in arugula and radish (copper only). Their study also seemed to indicate that vegetables do not grow as vigorously when subject to high levels of heavy metals, specifically copper.

Back to Table of Contents

Agricultural Program Year in Review

As snow begins covering the countryside, farmers take a much needed break from harvest only to begin planning for next year’s cropping season. There is equipment to clean, routine maintenance, and repairs to be made. Soil tests will be pulled and analyzed to determine soil fertility needs. Seed and fertilizer will be purchased in preparation for the coming planting season. Farmers often take time to reflect on the past season, and it’s with that sentiment we do the same in regards to agricultural best management practices (BMPs) implemented throughout the watershed this past season.

Cover crops remained popular with farmers this year (pictures below). Cost shares were provided on nearly 2,000 acres of cover crops. We continued to see more growers planting multi species cover crops (center and right pictures below). Multi species cocktails work to improve water infiltration and nutrient retention as well as armoring the soil against rain erosion. Putting diverse species in a cover crop mix mimics the diversity that is seen in nature.

Gypsum remained popular with growers as well. Gypsum application is highly dependent on weather and field conditions. Wet spring weather delayed planting which delayed harvest. Additional moisture during the fall harvest season further delayed a harvest that was running late to begin with. For this reason not as many acres of gypsum have been applied as are under contract. Similarly with cover crops, the wet fall weather made it difficult to get all the cover crops planted that were expected to be planted.

Acres under residue management contract were up over 200 acres with 683 acres receiving cost share payments. There has been a renewed interest in no-till practices after seeing how many of the no-tilled acres performed under wet soil conditions. Wet conditions tend to reveal the best and worst soil conditions. Soils that receive the greatest amount of tillage with the most disturbance typically do not retain and absorb water as much as the fields receiving reduced tillage or no till planting practices. Reduced or no-till practices create a healthy microbial environment within the soil. Microbes in return break down plant residue which increases soil organic levels. Soils with better organic matter and microbial activity act as a sponge. They hold water and retain the moisture in the soil without the soils being overly wet.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant the MACC has been working with has been extended until December 2019. We will now be able to offer an additional year of funding for growers in the watershed. We also requested grassed waterways be allowed as a fundable practice. This request was approved by the EPA and we hope to Implement several grassed waterways along with our other BMPs. Questions on agricultural BMPs and funding can be directed to MACC Agricultural Technician Rob Vink.

Back to Table of Contents

Macatawa Watershed Project Annual Report Highlights

Stormwater Management

  • Stormwater permit audits for three of our six permitted entities
  • Stormwater employee training provided to Allegan County, Ottawa County Road Commission and the City of Holland
  • Second annual Making the Case for Green Infrastructure seminar was held on August 23

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant

  • Extended through December 2019
  • Implemented in 2018: 350 ac of reduced tillage, 1,987 ac of cover crops, 1,070 ac of gypsum
  • Kept 1,80 tons of sediment and 2,998 lbs of phosphorus out of Lake Macatawa

Sustainable Watershed Funding Project

Volunteer Programs

  • Spring and fall river cleanups (spring event pictured below)
  • Spring and fall macroinvertebrate monitoring
  • 40 new road-stream crossing inventories
  • Over 100 volunteers participated

Public Outreach & Education

  • Participated in 18 community events
  • Gave watershed presentations to 5 groups
  • Gave away 190 copies each of 3 children’s books and 70 copies of the Homeowner’s Handbook
  • Assisted by 3 summer interns (pictured below)

Left: Luke Pommerening, Bethany Heerspink and Claire Thomassen practicing an activity ahead of Herrick Fest. Center: Claire Thomassen supervising an activity at the Holland Farmer’s Market. Right: Bethany Heerspink supervising an activity at the Macatawa Water Festival.

Back to Table of Contents

Cold Weather Care for Clean Water

Back to Table of Contents