Author: Christine Crissman
Grand Traverse Region Beach Testing Begins June 15
| June 14, 2022 | 7:09 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

The Watershed Center to Sample 19 Local Beaches Through September 7

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay will begin its annual beach testing on June 15, 2022. Nineteen area beaches in Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties will be tested for harmful E.coli bacteria every Wednesday through September 7. 

Beach test results will be available by noon on Thursdays and posted shortly thereafter on the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) BeachGuard website, The Watershed Center Facebook page, the Grand Traverse County Health Department website, and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department website and Facebook page. If test results show high bacteria levels, local Health Departments will post advisories at impacted beaches and the beaches will immediately be re-tested until results return to acceptable levels.

Elevated bacteria levels, including E. coli, at beaches pose a threat to public health and cause illness, especially in young children and people with compromised immune systems. The presence of E. coli in surface water indicates fecal contamination is present at the beach, which includes a host of other harmful viruses and bacteria. Beachgoers are encouraged to take simple actions to reduce the risk of E. coli at beaches such as not feeding ducks and other birds, disposing of diapers (including swim diapers) in trash cans, and having young children take frequent bathroom breaks.

“Every year, we are proud to be able to offer this service within the watershed,” said Sarah U’Ren, Program Director at The Watershed Center. “Our weekly testing for E. coli bacteria is an integral piece of our efforts to keep our residents, visitors, and beaches healthy.”

“I’m also excited to announce that we have been in discussions with Peninsula Township and have added Haserot Beach on Old Mission Peninsula to our testing program this year,” U”Ren adds. 

Beach goers are reminded not to swim near storm drains, especially during and immediately after a rain event, as water from the storm drain may contain E. coli and other harmful pathogens from animal feces that are washed into the drains during a storm. The risk of elevated E. coli levels after a rain event decreases as sunlight breaks down the bacteria in open water.

Funding for beach monitoring comes from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency BEACH Act Funds, the City of Traverse City, Acme Township, Peninsula Township, the Village of Empire, and the Village of Beulah. This year Lake Michigan beaches will mainly be tested due to lack of grant funding for inland lake testing. Testing will be conducted at the following beaches:

Lake Michigan

  • Empire Beach
  • Frankfort Beach

Grand Traverse Bay – West

  • Bryant Park (Traverse City)
  • Sunset Park (Traverse City)
  • Senior Beach (Traverse City)
  • Clinch Park (Traverse City)
  • Volleyball Beach (Traverse City)
  • West End Beach (Traverse City)
  • Greilickville Harbor Park
  • Suttons Bay South Shore Beach
  • Suttons Bay Marina Park Beach
  • Northport Beach

Grand Traverse Bay – East

  • East Bay Park (Traverse City)
  • Haserot Park Beach
  • Traverse City State Park
  • Acme Bayside Park
  • Sayler Park (Acme)

Inland Beaches

  • South Bar Beach (South Bar Lake)
  • Beulah Beach (Crystal Lake)
The Watershed Center Received Three Grants Totaling Nearly $1.3 Million for Restoration Work in the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed
| June 13, 2022 | 6:44 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay received two substantial grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and one from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR) Fisheries Habitat Grant Program totaling nearly $1.3 million. These state and federal grant funds will be used to reduce stormwater inputs into Grand Traverse Bay from the Village of Northport and re-establish a woody riparian buffer and provide floodplain connection along a section of Kids Creek near Silver Lake Road in Traverse City.

“We are excited and grateful to receive our first MDNR Fisheries Habitat Grant Program award,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center. “Additionally, we are happy to receive more funding from the EPA through impactful GLRI funds. We will use these investments to improve habitat along Kids Creek in Traverse City and reduce the harmful impact of stormwater to Grand Traverse Bay in the Village of Northport and Kids Creek.”

A $518,564 GLRI grant will be used to reduce stormwater inputs to Grand Traverse Bay in the Village of Northport from the Main Street Stormdrain that outlets next to a heavily used public beach. A large underground infiltration trench will be installed under the Northport Public School’s parking lot and an area of bioretention will be installed along Main Street. Construction is planned for summer 2023. “The goal of this project is to reduce the volume of stormwater and its associated pollution inputs to Grand Traverse Bay near swimming beaches, which we will accomplish by using green infrastructure systems including underground infiltration and bioretention,” U’Ren continued.

“The Great Lakes are irreplaceable, supplying drinking water for more than 40 million people, supporting 1.3 million jobs and sustaining life for thousands of species,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “That’s why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the projects and partnerships it supports are so important.”

A $600,000 GLRI grant will be paired with $149,200 of funding from the MDNR to implement streamside conservation practices that improve water quality and reduce stormwater, sediment, and nutrient inputs into Kids Creek, an impaired stream in the Grand Traverse Bay watershed.  Specifically, the riparian area along a 4,800-foot section of Kids Creek and its tributaries upstream of Silver Lake Road will be restored by re-establishing a woody riparian buffer and providing additional floodplain connections in the tributaries. Additionally, a one-acre wetland will be constructed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Meijer parking lot, treating 1.1 million gallons of stormwater a year. This project complements current green infrastructure installments in the Meijer parking lot funded through a $750,000 grant The Watershed Center received from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Construction for these projects is slated for fall 2022 and will continue into the spring and summer of 2023.

“These projects are all part of our large-scale Kids Creek Restoration Project with the goal of restoring and improving water quality in Kids Creek to remove it from the State’s Impaired Waters List,” U’Ren says. “They complement previous green infrastructure installations at Munson Medical Center, Grand Traverse Pavilions, and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, as well as five road crossing improvements completed just last year.”

Coastal Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Plan Approved
| December 3, 2021 | 4:51 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

The Watershed Center is pleased to announce the approval of the Coastal Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Plan by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. This plan is an update to the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan approved in 2003.

The initial Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan has proven to be highly successful, with many organizations utilizing it to shape their restoration activities over the past few decades. Specifically, The Watershed Center has received almost $14 million to implement key portions of the plan that annually prevent 1,726 tons of sediment, 1,482 pounds of phosphorous, and 4,604 pounds of nitrogen from entering Grand Traverse Bay and its waterways.

The Grand Traverse Bay watershed has 9 subwatersheds, most of which are major tributary drainages to the bay and are highly unique with specific assets, issues, and threats. As such, The Watershed Center and local partners decided to write management plans for the 2 largest Grand Traverse Bay subwatersheds – the Elk River Chain of Lakes and the Boardman River. The Coastal Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Plan therefore focuses on water quality recommendations for the other, smaller drainage areas of the watershed, with a specific focus on protecting water quality in the bay.

14 Annual Freshwater Summit Sessions October 20 & 22, 2021
| October 8, 2021 | 12:46 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

Registration Available through The Watershed Center

The Freshwater Roundtable is proud to announce two sessions that make up the 14th Annual Freshwater Summit. Sessions for the Freshwater Summit will be held virtually on October 20th and 22nd from 9:00 – 11:00am.

“We are unable to host an in-person event again this year, but still wanted to provide our community the latest research and information regarding the health of our Great Lakes,” said Christine Crissman, executive director of The Watershed Center. “We have another great lineup of professional speakers and look forward to discussing current challenges and opportunities facing local and regional freshwater efforts.” 

Presentations include wild rice restoration, the underwater mapping efforts of Lakebed 2030, wastewater infrastructure and COVID-19 testing, using qPCR for water quality monitoring, benthic changes in Lake Michigan, nature-based solutions for community resilience, and lightning talks about local initiatives.

“We are honored to offer our continued support of the Freshwater Summit,” said Dennis McCauley, president of the Great Lakes Environmental Center and sponsor of the Summit. “The Freshwater Summit is a highly valued venue that brings environmental professionals, citizens, and businesses up to date on matters that mean the most for the understanding and protection of the Grand Traverse Bay watershed.”

A full agenda for each session and registration information is available online. Registration is free and open to the public.

The Freshwater Summit is a product of the Freshwater Roundtable and is organized by The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, NMC’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, Michigan Sea Grant Extension, Great Lakes Environmental Center, Inc., Inland Seas Education Association, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, Grand Traverse Conservation District, Conservation Resource Alliance, and Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council. The 14th Annual Freshwater Summit is sponsored by the Great Lakes Environmental Center, Inc.

Grand Traverse Region Beach Testing Begins June 16
| June 8, 2021 | 3:40 pm | News & Events | Comments closed

THE WATERSHED CENTER TO SAMPLE 17 LOCAL BEACHES THROUGH SEPTEMBER 8

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay will begin its annual beach testing on June 16, 2021.  Seventeen area beaches in Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties will be tested for harmful E.coli bacteria every Wednesday through September 8. 

Beach test results will be available by noon on Thursdays and posted shortly thereafter on the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) BeachGuard website, The Watershed Center Facebook page, the Grand Traverse County Health Department website, and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department website and Facebook page. If test results show high bacteria levels, local Health Departments will post advisories at impacted beaches and the beaches will immediately be re-tested until results return to acceptable levels.

Elevated bacteria levels, including E. coli, at beaches pose a threat to public health and cause illness, especially in young children and people with compromised immune systems. The presence of E. coli in surface water indicates fecal contamination is present at the beach, which includes a host of other harmful viruses and bacteria. Beachgoers are encouraged to take simple actions to reduce the risk of E. coli at beaches such as not feeding ducks and other birds, disposing of diapers (including swim diapers) in trash cans, and having young children take frequent bathroom breaks.

“Every year, we are proud to be able to offer this service within the watershed,” said Sarah U’Ren, Program Director at The Watershed Center. “Our weekly testing for E. coli bacteria is an integral piece of our efforts to keep our residents, visitors, and beaches healthy.”

Beach goers are reminded not to swim near storm drains, especially during and immediately after a rain event, as water from the storm drain may contain E. coli and other harmful pathogens from animal feces that are washed into the drains during a storm. The risk of elevated E. coli levels after a rain event decreases as sunlight breaks down the bacteria in open water.

Funding for beach monitoring comes from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency BEACH Act Funds, the City of Traverse City, Acme Township, and the Village of Empire. This year Lake Michigan beaches will mainly be tested due to lack of grant funding for inland lake testing.  Testing will be conducted at the following beaches:

Lake Michigan

  • Empire Beach
  • Frankfort Beach

Grand Traverse Bay – West

  • Bryant Park (Traverse City)
  • Sunset Park (Traverse City)
  • Senior Beach (Traverse City)
  • Clinch Park (Traverse City)
  • Volleyball Beach (Traverse City)
  • West End Beach (Traverse City)
  • Greilickville Harbor Park
  • Suttons Bay South Shore Beach
  • Suttons Bay Marina Park Beach
  • Northport Beach

Grand Traverse Bay – East

  • East Bay Park (Traverse City)
  • Traverse City State Park
  • Acme Bayside Park
  • Sayler Park (Acme)

Inland Beaches

  • South Bar Beach (South Bar Lake)