Bubba’s Burgers Fundraiser 2/15 – 30% Proceeds to Benefit TWC
| February 5, 2017 | 9:55 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

Bubba’s Burgers in downtown Traverse City is holding a fundraiser on February 15 to benefit The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

From 4 p.m. to close, 30% of ALL proceeds will go to The Watershed Center. Get an extra 25% off all food items between 4-5:30 p.m. during “Bubba Time.” Bubba’s is located at 428 E. Front St.

For more information, call Bubba’s at 231.995.0570.


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Watershed Center Seeks Outreach Coordinator
| January 27, 2017 | 1:25 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

The Outreach Coordinator supports a range of philanthropic and communication activities to help further The Watershed Center’s mission to advocate for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and act to protect and preserve its watershed. S/he is responsible for building meaningful relationships with current and prospective members and connecting them to appropriate giving opportunities, which requires strengthening the database system and properly and timely acknowledging donors. S/he will also develop and lead communication strategies, including the development, distribution, and maintenance of all print and electronic communications and delivering presentations to community groups. This position requires a genuine enthusiasm for TWC’s mission and the ability to project that enthusiasm to others. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential to effectively interact with and build trust and confidence among our members and supporters.


Please email application, resume, and cover letter stating your suitability for this position to Executive Director Christine Crissman at ccrissman@gtbay.org. Application materials must be received no later than 5:00pm EST Friday February 10, 2017.

The Watershed Center is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate in employment, promotions, or compensation on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, color, national origin, marital or veteran status, or disability.

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Pharmaceuticals a Growing Concern in Great Lakes Waterways
| December 21, 2016 | 6:45 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

pillsWhen was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? With New Year’s right around the corner, this is a great time to take stock of prescriptions and other medications and make a resolution to keep our water clean by disposing of them properly.

Oftentimes, unused prescriptions and other medications are dumped down the drain or toilet, says Grand Traverse Baykeeper® Heather Smith. This means antibiotics, contraceptives, hormones and vitamins are making their way into our waterways and threatening marine life and human health.

After being flushed or poured down a drain, many medications pass through sewer and septic systems, as these systems are not designed to treat all the substances contained in medications.

“Many of these pharmaceuticals pass through the treatment systems and make their way to groundwater, lakes, rivers and the bay, which is our source for drinking water,” Smith says. Traverse City is the local exception, as it uses membrane bioreactors that may remove some pharmaceuticals while treating wastewater; however they cannot catch all of the diverse medicines on the market today.

According to the Michigan DEQ, over the past several decades, studies have shown persistent low levels of pharmaceuticals in our surface water and groundwater. Although there are no known health risks to people at these low levels, there are known impacts to amphibians, fish, wildlife and bacteria.

A 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study found a total of 27 chemicals in Lake Michigan that are used in both pharmaceuticals and personal care products. The four that turned up most often included metformin, an anti-diabetic drug; sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic; and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal compound found in soaps, toothpastes and other personal care products. Fourteen of the chemicals were found to be of “medium or high ecological risk,” according to the study’s researchers.

drug-returnWithout improvements in disposal and our wastewater treatment technologies, the level of pharmaceuticals in our water is expected to increase as more and more people continue to take more and more medications. One way to address the issue head-on to make sure prescriptions and medications are disposed of properly, and there are a variety of options in the Grand Traverse Bay watershed, including free programs at local pharmacies and law enforcement centers.

“The simple act of collecting and dropping off your unused medications and prescription drugs at a nearby collection station helps reduce the impact of these substances on the aquatic environment and on human health,” Smith says. “Small actions add up.”


A Sampling of Resources by County:

Elk Rapids Police Department
321 Bridge Street
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
(231) 624-6592

River Pharmacy
124 Ames Street
Elk Rapids, MI 49629
(231) 264-8165

Bellaire Pharmacy
120 N Bridge Street
Bellaire, MI 49615
(231) 533-8014

Grand Traverse
Law Enforcement Center
851 Woodmere Avenue
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 995-5005

Medicine Shoppe
1128 S. Garfield Avenue
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 946-0900

Sixth Street Drug Inc
1020 6th Street
Traverse City, MI 49684
(231) 946-4570

Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department
8525 E. Government Center Drive
Suttons Bay, MI 49682
(231) 256-8661

Bay Shore Pharmacy
93A W. Fourth Street
Suttons Bay, MI 49682
(231) 271-6111

Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Office
605 N. Birch Street
Kalkaska, MI 49646
(231) 258-8686

To find a disposal near you, visit:

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Tips for Dealing with Snow & Ice to Protect Water Quality
| December 7, 2016 | 2:38 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

shovelingbootsWinter’s snow and cold bring with it lots of fun outdoor activities, including skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating. But winter also means shoveling snow and dealing with slippery layers of ice on driveways and sidewalks.

Lots of different products, including salt and de-icers, make for an easier job, but they can also take a toll on the environment, particularly water quality. When the snow melts, all those chemicals and salt run off into our storm drains, into our local waterbodies and ultimately into Grand Traverse Bay.

“A lot of people don’t realize that what they’re putting on the ground ends up in our water,” says Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center. “They want a clear, safe path to their house, and that’s perfectly understandable. But impacts of these products can range from reducing oxygen levels in our streams and lakes and increasing sediment and phosphorous levels to introducing some pretty toxic chemicals into our waterways, which we use for recreation and drinking water.”

Here are some tips to reduce water pollution, while dealing with snow and ice this winter:

Shovel Early & Often: The best defense against snow is a good offense. The earlier and more often you shovel, the less likely you are to need salt. De-icers work best when only a thin layer of snow or ice needs to be melted, so head out with your shovel early to remove as much snow before applying deicer.

 deicersLimit Your Use of Salt, Deicers & Sand: Limit the amount of salt and de-icers you use on your driveways and sidewalks. The recommended application rate for rock salt is about a handful per square yard. Using more doesn’t work better; it only means more pollution for our local waters. Apply de-icers according to the instructions, and give them time to work. Consider purchasing a hand-held spreader to help you apply a consistent amount and think about using an anti-icing agent before it snows. This will prevent the snow from bonding with the pavement and speed the melting process.

Sand and kitty litter are good for providing traction, but they don’t melt snow, and they can clog sewers and degrade stream habitat when washed away. Cracked corn can be an alternative to try that is more environmentally friendly.

As a rule of thumb, if there’s a layer of de-icer remaining on your sidewalks or driveway after the snow and ice melts, you used too much. If you have excess salt or sand, sweep it up and throw it away so it’s not washed down the storm drain.

Try an Alternative: There are several environmentally-friendly de-icing options that can be applied instead of salt.

  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): CMA is salt free and biodegradable. It will not harm the environment if used in moderation and is less corrosive to concrete and less harmful to vegetation than salt. Although CMA is more expensive than rock salt, it’s recommended for environmentally-sensitive areas. You can find CMA at most hardware stores.
  • Alfalfa Meal: Often used as fertilizer, alfalfa meal is effective for melting ice and snow. It does contain nitrogen, which is why it’s used as fertilizer, but is less of a threat to local waterways than other products when used in moderation. Because it is dry and grainy like salt, alfalfa has the added benefit of creating additional traction while it’s melting the ice. Alfalfa meal can be purchased at farm and garden supply stores, including McGough’s.
  • Sugar Beet Juice: When mixed with salt, sugar beet juice can be an effective deicer. It works at much lower temperatures than salt and has been shown to have no harmful effects to the environment. Some people also swear by homemade molasses and pickle juice concoctions. You can make your own by mixing salt with molasses, sugar beet juice or pickle juice and pouring it into a spray bottle for application. Many of the beet products on the market are for municipalities, but retail products for the public can be purchased through www.eco-solutions.net.

The bottom line when looking for alternatives, and when using traditional salts and de-icers, is to read labels and do your research to understand the impacts of what you’re applying.


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DEQ Awards The Watershed Center $598K for Kids Creek Restoration
| October 23, 2016 | 2:17 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay will continue work to restore Kids Creek with a $598,573 grant for its “Green Infrastructure and Stream Restoration in the Kids Creek Watershed” project from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Non-Point Source Pollution Control Fund.

The Kids Creek daylighting project was completed in 2015.

The Kids Creek daylighting project was completed in 2015.

The Watershed Center has been working on Kids Creek-related projects since July 2003. Currently, a 2-mile portion of Kids Creek is on the State Impaired Waters List due to sedimentation and stormwater runoff. Much of the project over the last few years has coincided with the preparation for and construction of the new Cowell Family Cancer Center on the northern part of Munson Medical Center’s campus.

“We’ll be continuing our partnership with Munson Medical Center on our Kids Creek Restoration Project by installing green infrastructure and low-impact development techniques to reduce stormwater runoff to the creek at additional locations on Munson’s campus,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center.

Program Director Sarah U’Ren stands near the rain garden at Building 29, which has been seeded with a stormwater grass mix.

Program Director Sarah U’Ren stands near the rain garden at Building 29, which has been seeded with a stormwater grass mix.

Green infrastructure and low-impact development techniques are small-scale stormwater management practices that mimic and work with nature to reduce stormwater runoff. These strategies use things such as green space, native landscaping, pervious pavement, green roofs, and other techniques to encourage water to infiltrate into the ground.

“This project will complement what we’ve already done along Kids Creek to effectively and noticeabley reduce the amount of runoff making it to the Creek during rain events and snowmelt,” said U’Ren. “In addition to reducing the volume of water to the stream, it will also reduce sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen and other polllutants commonly related to stormwater runoff.”

The project will also include stream restoration activities to restore natural stream function to Tributary A of the Creek on the Munson property and work with the City of Traverse City to improve preservation of urban vegetation resources for stormwater management.

Trees and other riparian vegetation are critical components of healthy watersheds because they prevent erosion, filter contaminants before they enter waterways, absorb rainfall and snow melt, recharge aquifers and slow stormwater runoff.

Working on long-term protections for urban vegetation is especially important in Traverse City, which is the largest urban center in the 1,000-square-mile Grand Traverse Bay watershed and the largest input of stormwater to Grand Traverse Bay, said U’Ren. “Kids Creek is located on the west-side of Traverse City so any effort to improve the preservation of urban vegetation will help reduce stormwater impacts to the Creek and ultimately Grand Traverse Bay.”

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