www.mybaycity.com January 16, 2010
Outdoors Article 04542

Federal Funds Flowing to Four Projects to Clean Up Saginaw Bay

Reduction of Phosphorous Discharges from Thumb Counties Livestock Targeted

January 16, 2010
By: Dave Rogers


Muck piles up on the shore at the Bay City State Recreation Area.
 
Runoff of manure from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) like this one with hogs jammed together is being investigated as the cause of bayshore muck.

Scientists and health officials soon will examine the issue of manure runoff from 238,000 cattle, hogs and pigs in the Thumb that may be contributing to muck on the Saginaw Bay shoreline.

A Bay County volunteer group, operating under the Beach Wellness slogan, headed by Bay County Commissioners Kim Coonan and Ernie Krygier, has been working for several years to clean up the muck at Bay City State Recreation Area. Goal is to improve swimming and boating conditions and boost quality of life and tourism.

Federal funds have been granted in the amount of $230,710 to the manure issue and three other projects to help restore the Saginaw Bay coastal area.

County Executive Thomas L. Hickner called the grants "very good news for this area."

The projects are part of the Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative, an effort organized by the DEQ to collaborate and find solutions for environmental concerns in the Saginaw Bay region.

The Department of Environmental Quality has received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office for four projects that will help restore the Saginaw Bay coastal area.

The Saginaw River Tributary Model & Saginaw Bay Beach Forecasting System project will receive $80,000 to allow the Bay County Health Department to develop a model to determine beach quality conditions and to identify the factors that cause impacts to area beach water quality.

The model will be designed to produce real-time or forecasted results for daily swimming conditions, and will support the installation of continuous monitoring equipment to be installed near the confluence of the Saginaw River and nearby beaches.

The Bay County Health Department will be working with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.

The Lake Huron Beach Sanitary Surveys project will receive $31,500 to be provided to the Bay County Health Department, the Central Michigan District Health Department, and the Huron County Health Department to investigate and initiate corrective actions for potential sources of contamination at five Saginaw Bay beaches:

  • Singing Bridge Beach in Arenac County,

  • Whites Beach in Arenac County,

  • Bay City Recreation Area in Bay County,

  • Caseville Beach in Huron County, and

  • Port Crescent State Park beaches in Huron County.

    The Huron Conservation District will receive $50,000 for the Agricultural Phosphorus Reduction Effort in Saginaw Bay Watershed project. This money will provide a water quality improvement technical assistance program to small and medium livestock facilities in Huron, Tuscola, and Sanilac Counties with special emphasis on the Pigeon and Pinnebog River Watersheds. The effort will focus on corrective actions at livestock facilities resulting in the reduction of phosphorus discharges to Saginaw Bay.

    The 2007 census of the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the following statistics: Huron County, 105,000 cattle, 36,000 hogs and pigs; Tuscola County, 19,000 cattle, 17,000 hogs and pigs; Sanilac County, 56,000 cattle, 4,900 hogs and pigs.

    Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have increased considerably over the past 10 years in the Thumb and have brought immigrants from numerous countries to jobs in that region. Some illegals have been arrested by immigration officials.

    In fact there are nearly twice as many large animals as people in the three-county Thumb area. Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008 showed Huron County at 32,805 population; Tuscola County with 56,187 and Sanilac at 43,024, for a total of 132,016.

    Finally, $69,210 will go towards implementation of a pilot wetlands monitoring project in the Saginaw Bay Area of Concern. This project will fund the implementation of a three-year pilot wetland monitoring project in Saginaw Bay. The DEQ, working with Central Michigan University, will select five sites to test three wetland monitoring protocols. This pilot project will enable the DEQ to further develop its wetland monitoring program.

    "These projects are important to our continuing effort to restore the Saginaw Bay coastal area," said Interim DEQ Director Jim Sygo, adding:

    "We appreciate the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to provide these funds and we look forward to working with local interests as part of the Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative."

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