Leveraging Michigan’s abundant natural water assets: coasts, harbors, rivers, lakes, wetlands and streams, through restoration, enhancing access, and organizing community development around them – water placemaking – contributes powerfully to an improved quality of life for Michigan’s residents and a healthy environment. This also can translate into tremendous economic development benefits, with jobs flowing from new water-related access, use, supporting infrastructure, and amenities.
In a global economy where educated talented people, professionals and entrepreneurs can choose where they want to live and work, factors such as quality of life, amenities, and lifestyle have grown in their importance. Access to, and enjoyment of, water is a key locational asset. There is only so much waterfront real estate, and Michigan’s 3,000-plus miles of Great Lakes freshwater coast; 11,000 inland lakes; hundreds of rivers; and numerous coastal and inland wetlands make it a beautiful, magical place to live and work: if the water is clean, and the lakes and beaches, are accessible. People like to live, work, and play near water; to sit at a restaurant, watch birds, fish, swim, boat, enjoy a sunrise, or sunset over water. This is all possible if there is public access, if the water is clean, if we remove the slag piles, and rusting factories, and allow for beaches, parks and wetlands to be protected, improved and expanded; and if we facilitate the development of walkways, marinas, and new commercial and residential development.
The Michigan communities such as Traverse City, which realized first that the industrial uses of their waterfront were growing redundant, and that a higher calling would be to restore their health, and provide access to the water for enjoyment, recreation and community identity – have reaped significant long-term economic benefits from this transformation. Traverse City wiped away their cherry canneries on the lakefront decades ago, and has consistently, and evermore systematically, reconnected to their water, redeveloping its waterfront for use and enjoyment. Many other Michigan communities, from, Petoskey, to Marquette and Grand Rapids, have been at similar work for years. At the other end of the continuum, such communities as Kalamazoo and Flint, and Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, are only now looking at their water and rivers as potential fulcrums for community revitalization, and working to take the first steps to reconnect to their water, and helping to revitalize their communities.
We are only recently beginning to turn our communities and our psyches to literally face the water, to reconnect our communities to our waterfronts, understanding the old real estate adage: “location, location, location”; waterfront real estate has unique economic value. And we do occupy a special piece of waterfront real estate in Michigan. No matter where you are in our state, you are only six miles from a natural body of water. This gives Michigan the opportunity to make both the imagery and reality of “Pure Michigan” the centerpiece of our economic story.
The starting points for any reuse are water-quality restoration and access. Studies show a 3:1 to 6.6:1 return on investment, in the form of increased property values and local economic development from restoring water quality and shoreline habitat. Another more recent study commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that every $1 invested in local restoration projects leveraged $6.86 dollars from local and private partners, which collectively created $12.78 dollars in economic returns.
In addition to long-term benefits of healthy waters, we know today these waters contribute to increased community attractiveness and economic vitality, accelerate community population growth and tourism, and generate new economic activity. Residents pay more to live in areas with parks and open spaces, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and other environmental amenities. At the same time, residents drawn to environmentally attractive places help communities create more wealth and jobs, and enjoy higher wages. A 2012 study by the Michigan Land Policy Institute found a strong correlation in Michigan communities between natural features like access to wetlands, waterways, and shoreline and measures of economic performance including incomes and jobs.
Waterfront reclamation, beach and riverfront access and preservation, water-based development trails, including walkways, parks, marinas, residential and commercial developments (restaurants, lodging, office units, canoe, bike, and boat rentals), access to water for healthy, outdoor lifestyles, and water sports and activities from fishing, boating, to birding – all provide direct economic benefits. For example:
The cool, clear waters of the Huron River connect some of southeast Michigan’s most vibrant communities: Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock. But connecting those communities to their riverfront, and to each other, hasn’t always been obvious. The Huron River Watershed Council’s RiverUp! effort is changing that.
“We call RiverUp! a ‘renaissance’ for the river,’” says Elizabeth Riggs, Deputy Director at HRWC. “We are striving to build a sense of place not only by cleaning up the river, but by fostering river recreation and creating a destination with vibrant towns connected by the Huron River Water Trail.”
The Council’s efforts have resulted in improved safety and access to paddling along the river, including launch, dam and portage improvements, and improved information resources for paddlers looking to plan trips. The Council also works closely with the five trail towns along the river (Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flint) to develop assets and amenities for paddlers that contribute to local economic development. For more info, go to www.riveruphuron.org.
Even as Macomb County’s manufacturing economy has declined, the aquamarine waters of Lake St. Clair continue to rival places like Florida, drawing anglers from all over the world for its premier bass fishing.
“In terms of boats per square mile, Lake St. Clair is one of the busiest places in the nation,” says Gerry Santoro, Program Manager of Land and Water Resources at Macomb County’s Planning and Economic Development Department. Under the direction of county executive Mark Hackel, Macomb’s Blue Economy Initiative is working to leverage those blue assets as a platform for new economic development.
“We are realizing our recreational boating and fishing industries,” Santoro says. “Conservatively, we can say Lake St. Clair brings in at least $1 billion to the local economy annually. We believe freshwater is our key to our sustainability.” For more info, go to makemacombyourhome.com.
An oasis of green with blue vistas at every turn, Belle Isle is clearly the City of Detroit’s greatest natural asset. Not long ago, the historic park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, suffered from the neglect of a bankrupt city that could no longer afford to maintain it. Today, a strong Belle Isle Conservancy and an agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to manage the park is polishing the jewel of the Detroit River.
“Belle Isle is a place for the community to gather and celebrate and mark life’s milestones,” says Michelle Hodges, President of the Belle Isle Conservancy. “Any Detroiter who has lived here for any period of time will almost certainly have a Belle Isle story to tell, and will likely break into a smile as they tell it.”
The Conservancy is actively developing programs to help engage the community with the park, such as programming at the once-defunct Belle Isle Aquarium, while the MDNR is rebuilding infrastructure, planting trees and restoring habitat. For more info, go to belleisleconservancy.org.
While Detroit has always been a riverfront city, until recently it was very difficult to actually access that shoreline. That is no longer the case. Today, visitors can rent a made-in-Detroit bicycle at the Wheelhouse Detroit and cycle on the Detroit RiverWalk past a string of historic and cultural landmarks on one side, with the shining Detroit River on the other. This was made possible by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Inc., a nonprofit with a mission to develop access on the Detroit International Riverfront. Much of that vision is now a reality.
“We are working to see that Detroit has an identity as a Great Lakes city,” Hodges says.
When completed, the riverfront will connect 5 and a half miles of property, from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge, with a continuous RiverWalk dotted with plazas, pavilions and green spaces. For more info, go to detroitriverfront.org.
To sit in a kayak in the Detroit River is to know the power of moving water. Flowing deep and blue past Belle Isle, the river unites two nations as it moves past downtown Detroit and downtown Windsor, slides beneath the Ambassador Bridge and past the hulking metal structures of the Ford Rouge Factory, and widens alongside natural shorelines before draining into Lake Erie.
As early as a decade ago, only the most intrepid souls dared to make this trek by paddle. Today, school children board canoes to paddle the Detroit Heritage Water Trail, which connects 21 downriver communities along a paddler’s paradise. Catalyzed by Riverside Connection LLC and Michigan Sea Grant, the trail attracts enthusiasts from near and far to embark on an adventure that is at once beautiful and breathtaking.
“Paddling on the Detroit River is something people of all ages and abilities can enjoy,” Twardesky says. “It’s a way to connect to people to their heritage and natural resources. And, as paddlers seek out restaurants, lodging and goods, it brings economic development opportunities to downriver communities.” For more info, go to downrivergreenways.org.
Gazing at cobalt blue waters from the shore of the Detroit River at Humbug Marsh, one might forget they are in a major metropolitan area, just 20 miles south of Detroit and 50 miles north of Toledo.
“This refuge is vital to the region,” says Anita Twardesky, Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative co-chair and community outreach coordinator for Riverside Kayak Connection. “It not only protects our natural resources, but improves public access for local residents and visitors alike.”
Humbug Marsh was the last mile of undeveloped shoreline along the Detroit River in 2004 when it became the first piece of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge, created through a unique, binational public-private partnership in 2001, now contains 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and 48 miles of pristine shoreline. For more info, go to fws.gov/refuge/detroit_river.
Monroe’s port area, designated an Area of Concern by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, has been the starting point and focus of water work in and around this city of about 20,000 people. That includes nine de-listing activities, with habitat improvements highlighted by a series of fishways, which are designed to reconnect 23 miles of the River Raisin to Lake Erie. Other activities include a major wastewater facility upgrade, improvements to the asphalt storage facility, and cleanup of the Ford Motor site. Monroe is the only major port on Lake Erie in Michigan. Monroe’s port commission and city council have been major drivers of activity, with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the EPA.
The cleanup and reclamation of industrial zones around the power plant and wetlands is now extending to water-rebuilding efforts,
such as the construction of fishways, the improvement of kayak and canoe usage, and expanding the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The National Park Service is working to develop a Maritime Heritage Area.
Monroe is also home to Resilient Monroe, a land-use planning and community design project sponsored by the City of Monroe, Frenchtown Charter Township, and Monroe Charter Township, with support from Monroe County, and the Land Information Access Association.
Placemaking efforts need to take water-based restoration and development to the next phase, with a broader geographic approach. Dan Stefanski, a leader of some of these efforts, believes time is right for organizing a water-river development plan for the entire region and engaging a broader stakeholder coalition. For more info, go to www.rrtrail.com
Community leadership is eager to engage in Blue Economy-building and identify ways to further develop a comprehensive local effort, and incorporate into placemaking opportunities. Key leaders asked for Blue Economy briefings and assistance for community. They’re already engaged in Kayak Water Trail, and Bike Route development along the lakeshore. For more info, go to bentonharborcity.com.
The Kalamazoo River was so polluted for so long by paper mills, it has been difficult to undo the community attitude of turning away from river. The river is a major PCB-Superfund site. It has been so noxious for so many years that much of the riverfront property in the suburbs remains undeveloped; and in the urban core, the river was buried. People migrated to local lakes in Portage and Gull Lake, as well as other nearby communities as the spots for recreation, with trails and water enjoyment.
There has not been the development of a community vision nor a comprehensive plan for riverfront redevelopment. But water placemaking efforts are beginning, including downtown Acadia and Portage Creek opened up for public access. And Kalamazoo Valley Community College is developing a major campus center along spurs of the river in downtown.
Local civic and conservation groups are developing a Heritage Water Trail along the river, to connect into a broader hiking trail system as well as the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail – a rail-to-trail system. The Kalamazoo Land Bank is also developing a six-acre Riverview Launch project, a mixed-use development for river access, gardens, and an interpretive cultural center. The Kalamazoo Nature Center has built access platforms, and hiking trails, on its property as a purposeful effort to re-connect the community and its citizens to the water and to build a new relationship with the river.
Kalamazoo very much needs, and wants, an organized effort to lead further water placemaking. For more info, go to kalamazooriver.org.
The city of Allegan sits on a bend in the Kalamazoo River with a natural lagoon adjacent to the downtown. For years the Kalamazoo River was a dumping ground. Over recent decades, the community has begun to turn, face, and reconnect to its riverfront as a new “main street” of the community.
The work started 30 years ago with a bridge modernization project, when the community rejected a new, more modern bridge and decided to keep an historic structure. Additional waterfront redevelopment projects came in the ’80s, including the connection of the waterfront to the historic district.
The ’90s brought a dam renovation, a new walkable waterfront with public access improvements. Increasingly, Allegan’s plans, and plans for the future, began to focus on the citizens’ desires to reconnect to, and fully enjoy, the waterfront.
In recent years, with support from the Michigan State Housing Authority and the Michigan Municipal League, and grants from the state’s placemaking efforts, additional community-visioning activities developed a plan for an even more comprehensive riverfront development. In Nov. ’13 the community asked for and won a local vote for sinking fund millage of $500,000 to finance elements of the plan. For more info, go to tinyurl.com/l64df92.
Led by their Convention and Visitors Bureau, Saugatuck has, for some time, looked to combine their unique water assets – iconic beaches, lakefront property, state parks, and marina and harbor – with a distinctive arts theme to promote a tourism-driven economy. The plan worked.
A focus on a walkable, livable waterfront community development has added to the area’s quality and economic vitality. Public access to water and the lakefront (and keeping the water views unspoiled by development) have been central tenets of the community development strategy. A tri-community development plan from decades ago, which is being updated now, sought to preserve views and limit condominiums and other developments. A Michigan Cool Cities grant in early 2000 helped launch a film festival, convert a redundant pie factory to an arts center, and develop Saugatuck’s waterside park. It continued to enhance public access to water with additional community amenities. Saugatuck is a partner in West Michigan Water Trail network development for kayakers, canoeists and kiteboarders, and has a distinctive National Trust for Historic Preservation designation for its beautiful Oval Beach on Lake Michigan. For more info, go to saugatuck.com/welcome/welcome.asp.
Muskegon had a heavily polluted and industrialized waterfront. “Growing up you did not know there was a lake,” says Kathy Evans of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission. Efforts to clean and open up the waterfront to new uses and enhance public access have ensued after waves of factory abandonment in ’70s and ’80s. Brownfield redevelopment funds, backed by the city and county, were used to clean up a number of factory and industrial parcels.
A “Save Our Shoreline Lake Shore Plan” was developed but actual redevelopment pattern has been more episodic, driven by opportunity, and need, than the execution of a master plan. An Area of Concern (AOC) designation and remediation plan focused many of these efforts.
The Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership emerged as a public-private convener for ongoing project focus, including the extensive Hartshorn Marina cleanup. Such projects showed the community tangible progress. Strings of projects followed, including the Heritage Landing park along the shore of Muskegon Lake, which is open to the community for recreational purposes.
Another significant effort is around the Port of Muskegon, its use and facility expansion. Muskegon Lake is the only major deep-water port on Lake Michigan and a robust public-private planning process is underway to keep and expand the deep-water port facility for commercial use, and redevelop significant parcels for public access and recreation. The Port Planning process has put Muskegon in the center of West Michigan regional economic development planning with strong inter-agency involvement from the state of Michigan. For more info, go to tinyurl.com/n6ewo8r.
Traverse City has for some decades been engaged in visioning, planning, and supporting implementation of a citywide waterfront plan for enhanced public access, amenities, and feature development. Work began in earnest when a well-done community visioning process led to the “Your Bay – Your Say” plan. The plan has been dusted off and used as springboard for moving ahead with implementation of key elements.
Those elements include a broader Bayfront planning effort involving access and restoration.
There’s a water quality plan, which includes new waterfront development districts, a freshwater campus for non-profits/attractions (such as museums etc.), and public access clearing in Acme and Elmwood Township, along the bay.
The community leadership is also involved in a major multi-jurisdictional Blue Economy water leveraging/economic development plan along Boardman River, extending south and east from Traverse City all the way to the village of Kalkaska. The Boardman River Prosperity Plan includes the state’s largest dam removal efforts, its largest wetlands restoration, and a comprehensive water-leveraging economic development plan linking both the richest and poorest counties.
There are many lessons learned and identified challenges. For example, community foundations can play key roles in supporting collaborative vision and planning, raising needed match for state resource flows, and building capacity in local government to establish relationships with funding entities. A major point of emphasis is that purposeful public access expansion can include both non-profit and for-profit businesses and features (such as marinas and museums). For more info, go to traversecitymi.gov.
Situated between Lake Michigan and the western side of Lake Charlevoix, this alluring historic town named after a French explorer sees many Blue Economy opportunities. Those include the potential for a larger dock at East Park on Round Lake in downtown Charlevoix. A goal would be to accommodate more boaters visiting with ferries, or other transit services from marinas on Lake Charlevoix. The challenges center on Round Lake where the waterfront is already heavily developed, with homes and private clubs occupying a large portion of it. The marine commercial district on the south side of Round Lake is dominated by condos and the demand for the marina can exceed capacity. East Park provides the only major public access to Round Lake. For more info, go to tinyurl.com/ljnxu45.
The Soo Locks and corridor dominate Sault Ste. Marie’s beautiful waterfront. The stretch is dotted with historical and tourism-related sites and developments. In fact, there are more than 50 documented historical places including 12 on National Register of Historic Sites. The city has a number of waterfront parks – a “string of pearls” that provide access to the upper and lower river – that the community is trying to tie together more systematically. Each year approximately 500,000 people visit the Soo Locks Visitor Center and park. Sault Ste. Marie has two beautiful ports that are also harbors of refuge, the Charles T. Harvey Marina and the George Kemp Marina.
To date, the community has yet to implement a plan for comprehensive waterfront access and redevelopment. New waterfront access and use elements have been developed when projects and funding emerged. Last summer, the community dedicated interpretive panels along its length. There’s a stormwater retrofit project and streetscape improvements. Rotary Park, a waterfront city park, got a face lift.
An old tannery/superfund site on the town’s west side has also been cleaned up and delisted. The St. Marys River is an Area of Concern (AOC) and the remedial action plan includes changes to the water-flow configuration that will open it up under a causeway. The community is part of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning & Development plan to tie together and promote a water trail along Lake Michigan. For more info, go to tinyurl.com/phs8x6z.
The Ontonagon River is the longest river in the Upper Peninsula, and it provides ample recreational prospects. The historic village of Ontonagon has identified the opportunity to develop a water trail along that river as well as its lovely Lake Superior shore, aiming to collaborate with the U.S. Forest Service to identify put-in and take-out points. The village’s future waterfront plans include increasing accessibility to the lighthouse and developing a water trail on the river. The lighthouse is currently accessible only by crossing private property. Because of this, access is limited to visitors who join a guided tour run by Ontonagon’s historical museum. One potential option is to increase public accessibility to this historical resource by transporting visitors across the river from downtown by boat. Ontonagon sees many other Blue Economy opportunities. Those include the redevelopment of the paper mill property, as well as a re-envisioning of the character of the waterfront and riverfront boardwalk. The village needs to enhance its role as transportation hub, with water-road-rail access. It needs to develop a new transient slip boat basin on the east side of the river, with walking access to shopping, entertainment and gathering spaces. For more info, go to villageofontonagon.org.
Manistique, Michigan developed in the late 1800s as a lumber and fishing community at the mouth of the Manistique River on Lake Michigan. The community was accessible by steamship before there were roads into the city. Manistique has approximately eight miles of frontage on the Manistique River and Lake Michigan. The town’s two-mile long boardwalk is a popular destination for both residents and visitors. Surrounding natural resources also attract tourists to the region.
Blue Economy opportunities for Manistique include expanding the marina to accommodate larger vessels and the construction of a broadside dock, as well as the opportunity to accommodate cruise ships. There are city plans to acquire additional waterfront property along Lake Michigan for a campground and a park, as well as acquiring right-of-way along the Manistique River viagra sicher bestellen. The city plans to install a Kayak ramp. For more info, go to tinyurl.com/l5cjlf9.
The not-for-profit organization Huron Pines is facilitating broader multi-stakeholder discussions around how to build on natural assets, including water, for community development and economic growth in northern Michigan. Huron Pines and other partners have been engaged in a variety of localized water place-making initiatives. The Gaylord, Mich.-based Huron Pines is striving to integrate the economic benefits of natural resources into land conservation projects in order to better support habitat restoration projects and benefit local communities. For more info, go to huronpines.org.
Efforts to transform the Flint River corridor from a distressed waterway to a natural resource are underway. The work will be a huge community asset and provide a national example of urban river restoration. Some brief history: early convergence of key leadership groups/institutions (including Kettering University, University of Michigan-Flint, Hurley Hospital, Mott Community College, Genesee Chamber of Commerce) led to a “turn to face” the river effort, and the planning for a riverfront housing and community development. The Flint Rivers Corridor Alliance was created. It moved some projects forward in fits and starts. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supported strategic planning.
Local surveying and engineering firm Wade Trim developed a riverfront plan, which is, in part, a working blueprint for river redevelopment that’s currently integrated with Flint’s new master plan. Now the Flint River Watershed Council is the lead agency to move efforts forward. Focused on the first phase of Flint’s Hamilton Dam and riverfront restoration, they’re currently organizing resources to complete this as a signature project. Significant work has gone on around green cap, and tree planting around Chevy in the Hole industrial sites – as part of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup. For more info, go to flintriver.org.
Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) is a unique collaborative of communities, conservationists, foundations and businesses. The group came together to identify issues, set priorities and develop projects in Saginaw Bay. Its aim is to steward natural resources, strengthen local economies, nurture agriculture and bolster nature-based tourism. It started 20 years ago when the Dow Chemical Company and other corporate partners came together to form a corporate and philanthropic pool of resources for strategic investments. They engaged the Conservation Fund, a national conservation organization to manage efforts, run by Mike Kelly, locally.
The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network provides funding support for myriad key water-related initiatives, from river access
to waterfront restoration to birding habitat. The initiative has been engaged in Rifle River restoration, shoreline amenity/feature development, and marketing/promotion by seeding and funding multiple partners, and efforts.
Independently in the city of Saginaw there has been private sector-led redevelopments of property and projects in the downtown area along the river. Those include condos, theater conversion, and a Central Michigan University medical school building along the riverfront. But there are many needs and challenges, such as showing investors the economic benefit of the waterfront, and the role of beach/bay development and placemaking. For more info, go to saginawbaywin.org.
As reported in Michigan Municipal League’s Review magazine: Portland, Michigan’s updated boardwalk has created new life for downtown businesses. The Riverfront redevelopment simply reinvented the town, which had been fading for years. Portland was one of the first cities to be recognized as a Michigan “Cool City” and a Michigan Main Street Community. In 2004, the city of around 4,000 people was awarded the Cool Cities Catalyst Grant ($100,000). It also received a $625,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to develop loft apartments above downtown buildings.
The Cool City designation paved the way for further reinvestment. Portland then worked with Grand Rapids-based Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering, Inc. on the multi-phase Downtown Waterfront Development Project. The company provided design
concepts and grant administration for the redevelopment, which consisted of a system of paved paths, boardwalk riverfront façade improvements, a new pedestrian bridge, band shell, and landscape improvements. The city of Portland, the Portland Downtown Development Authority, and local business owners provided critical input.
The project had challenges, including access problems for the construction, strict state permit requirements and protection of the historic buildings. But the improvements were dramatic and beautiful upon the project’s 2007 completion. The effort is testament to the city’s commitment to its future, while simultaneously honoring its past. For more info, go to portland-michigan.org.
Led by its chamber of commerce, community foundation, county leadership, and with support from Saginaw Valley State University, Bay County has developed an “economic roadmap.” Its priorities include developing a robust and diversified economy and a strong sense of place, and an initiative to rebrand the region from “Tri-Cities” to “Great Lakes Bay Region.” Its strategy includes building a Blue Economy to use water in smart and sustainable ways, and leveraging natural water assets for community economic development. Their goal is to have a clean and accessible waterfront by 2024.
In the 1980s, Bay County did a good deal of waterfront development and repurposing of land along the Saginaw River through Bay City. With Environmental Protection Agency.
“brownfield” funding, sites were cleaned up, electrical power systems installed under the river, and hotel and office development was accommodated along the river. But Bay County has historically provided little access to the bay itself, except at the state park. Now, as part of the roadmap implementation, leaders are looking to purposefully enhance public access to waterfronts, and implement water amenities and developments. They’re also looking for projects and ways to grant and steer dollars to provide “mass use” of the waterfront. The community is also working to develop access points and connect to the “Blueways Trail,” which is being developed along the Michigan’s northeast coast, and extend the Saginaw River Rail Trail, and build connections to the marina. There are challenges to overcome, including restrictions on land use, but things are moving. For more info, go to bayfoundation.org.
Like a number of communities located along the shores of Lake Michigan, South Haven sees a significant annual boost in its population during the summer months.
Since its 5,000 year-round residents are joined by an estimated 15,000 boaters, swimmers, and tourists looking to enjoy South Haven’s seven lakefront beaches and four public marinas, city officials decided to pursue a number of water-based municipal improvements designed to capitalize on the influx and reinvigorate the downtown area.
In the 1870s, a Grand Rapids reporter stepped from a rail passenger car and proclaimed Petoskey the land of the “Million Dollar Sunset.” Since then, recognition of the value of water resources has been a consistent theme in the city’s history.
While the village of Chesaning’s population has remained near 2,500 for decades, the Shiawassee River upstream of the village is teeming with new inhabitants. Following the removal of a local dam in 2009, residents have welcomed the steady return of walleye and other fish species to their natural habitat along the river. Man-made rapids, created after the dam removal to enable fish passage into 37 miles of historic habitat for spawning, have become a focal point for the community, bringing eco-tourism, recreational, and environmental benefits.
Tawas City sits on the shoreline of Lake Huron and is symbolic of a small town steeped in Michigan’s rich history. It is surrounded by many natural resources, including Tawas Bay, Tawas River, and Huron National Forest. Tawas City is proud of its many beautiful parks, beaches, and a newly completed fishing pier at Gateway Park – all in all, the city contains nearly 1,500 linear feet of uninterrupted shoreline. There is a variety of motels, unique resort cabins, and nearby camping. In the summer season, the population nearly doubles.
Not everything in the city was idyllic, however.
Seemingly lost to history, hundreds of ships lay at the bottom of Thunder Bay near Alpena, Mich., victims of a lake that too often became a thrashing sea. But those destructive waters have also worked to preserve their prey. Today, shipwrecks spanning from the 1840s to the 1960s are protected as part of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “It’s really like a national park spanning 450 square miles in Lake Huron, where we are working to preserve and protect a spectacular collection of shipwrecks,” says Jeff Gray, the superintendent of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
“Conservatively, we can say Lake St. Clair brings in at least $1 billion to the local economy annually. We believe freshwater is our key to our sustainability.”
The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge
The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail
Huron River [RiverUP!]
Offers a Freshwater Systems-Water Monitoring and Assessment Degree. For more info, go to sc4.edu.
The University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint is active in projects examining invasive species ecology, aquatic invasive species management, fisheries management, fish population dynamics, and simulation modeling. They also are involved with partners in work on the Flint River Watershed plan and its management. For more info, go to umflint.edu.
Muskegon Community College is working on undergraduate student-centered research projects related to biology and biofuel and has a chemistry professor working on biofuels, bioenergy, and student-centered research. For more info, go to muskegoncc.edu.
Washtenaw Community College (WCC) does not have any “water-based” programs, however they offer two programs in environmental science that include a strong water quality component. The Environmental Science Associates in Science degree is a two-year program based on physical science, which prepares students to transfer to a four-year institution to complete their Bachelors in Environmental Science. It is ultimately preparing students for careers in resource management, waste management, sustainability, environmental consultation and the like. The Environmental and Society Certificate is a five-semester program emphasizing the social science perspective. Both tracks integrate biology, chemistry and geology.
In other initiatives: Digital Media Arts faculty member Matthew Zacharias has gotten his students involved in creating public service videos for the Huron River Watershed Council. And WCC has been active with the Sustainability Literacy Task Force, in a series of events to create a greater understanding of environmental issues on campus and beyond, including activities focused on Michigan’s waterways. The school hosted a “Year of Water.” The task force organized a number of water-related events, including a college-wide book read of The Windward Shore by Jerry Dennis, a visit to Rolling Hills Water Park, hosting talks by Laura Rubin of the Huron River Watershed Council and Marc Smith of the National Wildlife Federation, and a water clean-up day at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. For more info, go to wccnet.edu.
West Shore Community College (WSCC) does not have a water-based degree, but does offer a variety of water-based courses on a reoccurring basis. Those include: aquaculture science, introduction to lake biology, water analysis, and fish biology.
WSCC also participates in the watershed monitoring of the Big South Branch of the Pere Marquette River. This project includes water analysis, macroinvertebrate sampling, and fish electroshocking. They do sampling twice a year, (spring and fall). The goal is to monitor possible pollution or other changes in the river. And WSCC works with the Little Manistee Watershed Conservation Council, monitoring the Little Manistee River once a year, and conducts water monitoring for the Hackert Lake Improvement Board, studying the lake for potential ecological problems.
WSCC also used Water as an interdisciplinary theme in its winter 2014 semester. More than 20 courses across all the college’s departments focused on water and water issues as part of the curriculum, including sharing The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis as a common read. For more info, go to westshore.edu.
Jackson Community College (JCC) students do a service-learning project with the Jackson Soil Conservation District where they sample insects and water. They also do water quality assessments on the rivers and creeks in the area, looking for nitrates, phosphates, and dissolved oxygen.
The College’s environmental science program sees students work on local ecological hypotheses drawn from both terrestrial and aqueous environments. In one experiment, a group of students is biomining and trying to determine the kind of extremophiles that they will find in the salt marshes of Michigan along the Maple River estuary. These small ecosystems are found in few places throughout Lower Michigan and offer the students a science laboratory setting in nature. The students are comparing their findings to work that students did on the Great Salt Lake microbial life at Utah State University. For more info, go to jccmi.edu.
North Central Michigan College (NCMC) tests three sites in the college natural area for fecal coliform contamination, and conducts a diversity and abundance exercise with the data. Students also collect macroinvertebrates from the Russian Creek and do a sequential comparison index with the specimens. NCMC also works collaboratively with Tip Of The Mitt Watershed Council on educational programs. The school participates in the Great Lakes Alliance Annual Beach Survey, where they clean up the beach at Petoskey Harbor, and also conduct many water-related measurements, such as bacterial counts, algae, turbidity, etc. For more info, go to ncmich.edu.
Schoolcraft College (SC) offers an environmental studies associate degree and environmental science technician certificate program. Its geography department has also worked with the Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) for more than 10 years; participating in the fall and spring bug hunt, and the January stonefly hunt. They send data to the FOTR to include on the Rouge Watershed Data. For more info, go to schoolcraft.edu.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) is exploring a Water Technology program as a part of new campus offerings. For more info, go to kvcc.edu.
Has no degree program currently, but includes watershed management in courses in collaboration with Battle Creek Area Clean Water Partnership. The school is also a partner in numerous community projects through the Battle Creek Area Clean Water Partnership, Recycle Rama, and Children’s Water Festival. For more info, go to kellogg.edu.
Bay College (Escanaba) operates a Water Technology Program including courses and degrees in Water Resource Management designed to provide specialized training in water and wastewater treatment theory and application to both entry-level personnel and those already in the field.
The school also offers:
Student projects and internships as part of these programs have included the following: a private well fluoride study of Delta, Menominee, Schoolcraft and Dickenson counties; a water quality study for Tacoosh, Days, Rapid and Whitefish Rivers, a phosphorus and nitrate study on the Escanaba River, and watershed surveys for nitrogen, phosphorus and chlorophyll over the east and west ends of the Hiawatha National Forest. For more info, go to baycollege.edu.
Currently, Macomb Community College (MCC) is collaborating with Wayne State University (WSU) to develop transfer plans for students interested in pursuing water-based science and engineering studies, completing introductory science courses and elective courses at MCC before transferring to WSU to complete their undergraduate studies.
The faculty is also developing a surface water quality class to teach students water testing methods in the classroom and in the field. This is based on a previous experimental course entitled Great Lakes Source Waters Quality Studies that allowed students to adopt numerous local streams for monitoring and directed research activities.
Another experimental course currently under development is called Water Science and Society. It will explore the physical, cultural, and economic issues related to water supply and include
a student project involving the installation of water monitoring wells in the Nature Centers at its campuses. In the future, these wells will be outdoor labs for water quality testing and understanding ground water flow.
Macomb Environmental Science faculty received a Clinton River Watershed Venture Grant in 2007 to study environmental impacts to the Clinton River tributary that runs through one of the school’s campuses. The project has been incorporated into the Environmental Science classes at the college.
The Environmental Science Water Quality Monitoring Program at Macomb Community College also allows Environmental Science instructors to participate with their classes as volunteers working with the Clinton River Watershed Council to perform water quality monitoring activities in local waters. For more info, go to macomb.edu.
Monitors the health of the watershed by sampling sites on six major tributaries of the Au Sable River for physical and biological parameters focusing on macroinvertebrate diversity. KCC and the Kirtland Foundation also work with four different Trout Unlimited Chapters, the Anglers of the Au Sable and the Au Sable River Watershed Restoration Committee to fulfill all aspects of this monitoring project, using Kirtland’s Roscommon facility for training, testing and identification procedures. For more info, go to kirtland.edu.
Alpena Community College (ACC) offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Marine Technology program. Students engaged in this program have assisted with research on projects as diverse as investigating submerged tree stumps in Lake Huron (indicating historic low levels of lake water) and mounds located at the bottom of Thunder Bay; assisted Grand Valley State University with shipwreck research for the Western Michigan Underwater Preserve; and translated documents recovered from the MV Nordmeer, which ran aground in 1966 in Lake Huron near Alpena.
ACC is also working with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in a grant program from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Preserve America Initiative to create an exhibit for the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center focusing on marine technology. The centerpiece will be
an ROV simulator promoting sanctuary stewardship, STEM education, and Alpena Community College’s Marine Technology degree.
Also, every spring the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary hosts an ROV competition for students in upper elementary, junior high, and high school grades, as well as college and university students from all over America and several foreign countries. The competition is conducted with the assistance of marine tech faculty and student volunteers from ACC.
In the summer of 2014, the International MATE ROV competition took place in Alpena. ACC’s marine tech faculty and students helped plan and execute the event, which attracted 800 competitors from around the world. For more info, go to alpenacc.edu.
Lawrence Tech University (LTU) is home to the Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute, whose mission is to effect positive environmental change in the Great Lakes region through research, education, and practical application of Low Impact Development (LID) and stormwater management techniques. The institute is involved in a number of projects. Those include the following:
The WaterTowns program, which is a community-based initiative designed to help towns and cities in the watershed leverage the assets of Clinton River and Lake St. Clair for water-oriented community development.
The Small Harbors Study, which is examining how Michigan communities with small, shallow-draft harbors can plan for economic sustainability in response to the long-term trend of lower water levels in the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Project – Near East Side initiative will deploy green infrastructure to manage and retain stormwater in areas outlined by Lower East Side Action Plan (LEAP), a Detroit community organization, and RecoveryPark, an economic development agency. For more info, go to ltu.edu/water.
Ferris State University (FSU) is active in the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly. They’re dedicated to the preservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of the Muskegon River, as well as the land it drains and the life it supports, through educational, scientific and conservation initiative. The school is working with partners in wild rice restoration and preservation programs. For more info, go to ferris.edu.
Eastern Michigan University (EMU) researchers are active in understanding bioaccumulation and metabolism of PCBs in freshwater invertebrates. They’re also studying the effects of flood disturbance on algal biomass and community composition, and investigating the influence of algal photosynthesis on bacterial activity. They’re looking at the linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the watershed scale processes that control the export of carbon and nutrients from land to water, and how the biotic and abiotic environments shape the ecology and evolution of fish populations. They’re studying invasive fish species and their management in the Great Lakes Region. They’re examining the impact of historic climate variability on stream flow and precipitation in the Allegheny River watershed, and the timing and impact of snowmelt flooding on Great Lakes ice break-up. The research includes estimating aquifer parameters, and the relationship between lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater. For more info, go to emich.edu.
University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-Dearborn) is examining sources of pollution to the Great Lakes. They’re tracking suspended and contaminated sediments within Michigan’s Lower Rouge River to understand the amount of heavy metals that are mobilized as discharge increases. This has a profound impact on remediation efforts and on aquatic and near-shore habitats. The school is also monitoring fish community responses to restoration activities in the Rouge River watershed to understand the ways in which restoration efforts impact the population.
UM-Dearborn operates an Environmental Interpretive Center to foster student and community awareness of our natural environment. Its goals are to protect and promote the conservation of ecosystems in the densely populated region of southeastern Michigan and to provide “hands-on” experiential education and discovery opportunities about the environment for young children and students of all ages. For more info, go to umdearborn.edu.
Western Michigan University (WMU)’s water “work” includes developing Michigan Heritage Water Trails: routes on navigable waterways designed to foster an interactive historical educational experience. Current efforts focus on developing a leisure corridor that integrates bike, sea kayak, and driving routes.
National Science Foundation-funded research is using geospatial technologies (satellite image analysis, geographic information systems, and the global positioning system) to improve the likelihood of finding productive Eocene mammalian fossils in the Great Divide Basin, Wyoming.
Another project involves using GIS to reduce the impact of sensitive weather on profitable crop production in the US. Research will benefit a variety of cropping systems throughout the U.S. including peanuts in Georgia and northern Florida, barley in the northern Great Plains and potato-growers in Michigan.
An initiative to understand water resources management, water hydrology and non-point source pollution in the U.S. and China, is answering questions like: How much freshwater is available to support the demands for water for domestic supplies, industrial development, agricultural irrigation and hydropower generation while satisfying the needs for ecosystem maintenance? How does land use/cover change resulting from human-environmental interactions affect the watershed over space and time? How can new computing, modeling, tracing, mapping and remote-sensing technologies better analyze, the dynamics of water resources?
Environmental risk assessments include examining how industrial contaminants and pesticides found in the Great Lakes Basin alter ecosystem health. WMU energy-related projects also improve the understanding of geology, in support of oil and gas exploration. WMU also offers a Freshwater Studies major for undergraduates. For more info, go to wmich.edu.
Oakland University is leading research in:
How agricultural and other pollutants affect local pond communities, including altered dynamics of parasites that can affect people and human health. For more info, go to Oakland.edu.
Lake Superior State University (LSSU) has water related programs studying the effects of development and impervious surfaces in the Ashmun Creek Watershed, Sault Ste. Marie, to aid the Soo Watershed Association, and the Army Corps of Engineers in their assessment of the watershed and how to rehabilitate it.
LSSU assesses fish populations in the St. Marys River to determine restoration needs and how to support salmon and sport fish populations and increased tourism and economic activity in the twin Saults.
LSSU and its Aquatic Research Lab is also a partner in the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring (GLCWM) a collaborative of nine universities and three U.S. and Canadian agencies, to implement a comprehensive bi-national standardized wetland-monitoring program across the entire Great Lakes basin.
Other studies examine the effects of introducing non-indigenous brown trout into a native brook trout stream and the effectiveness of a filtration system in Sault Sainte Marie, which is designed to reduce disease on Atlantic salmon stocks.
Product Development: LSSU business school faculty are supporting the development of a new commercial product for Superior AquaSystems – a sustainable, eco-friendly system to grow fish and organic produce for human consumption. The business school is engineering a cost-effective, recirculating aquaculture system using renewable energy and biologically sound water purification systems.
Researchers are also exploring a method of scrubbing petroleum hydrocarbons from soil and groundwater, and synthesizing and deploying new biodegradable organic materials that would isolate insoluble soil contaminants near the groundwater layer for rapid and safe removal. For more info, go to lssu.edu.
Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) and its Saginaw Bay Environmental Institute are active in developing and implementing rapid bacterial testing for local fresh waterways, especially beaches, and utilizing cutting edge instrumentation to determine population levels of fecal indicator bacteria. The method provides results in as little as four hours versus the 24 hours required in current testing methods, thus reducing human contact time with contaminated water and providing more effective beach monitoring.
Assessing ecosystem health and pollution in Saginaw County, Michigan using parasite-host relationships in frogs to understand the roles parasites play in our environment, and how their sensitivity to certain pollutants may help gauge the overall health of the environment.
Other projects include DNA fingerprinting of zebra mussels in
Saginaw Bay; determining the potential ecological impact of these populations; and a system-wide integrated framework for understanding impacts on Saginaw Bay to help guide investments in nutrient management practices and restoration projects, and how to strategically allocate resources and conservation practices to accomplish multiple ecological and economic goals.
National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM Watershed Educational Research: watershed-based laboratory experiences for students in biology and chemistry coursework at SVSU and partner institutions. Their aims are to increase interest, real-world relevancy and skills of students in chemistry and biology, determine the effects of the curricula and cross-discipline design on student outcomes, and provide a transferable model for other institutions wishing to similarly transform their curricula. For more info, go to svsu.edu
Northern Michigan University (NMU) programs include:
Water Ecosystem Restoration: A project for understanding wetland bird use in Michigan’s coastal wetlands and creating large-scale conservation plans that help to establish priorities for stewardship and conservation programs for conservation organizations. Special projects include restoration of coaster brook trout, a migratory strain, to Lake Superior tributaries and a piping plover protection program including a captive rearing program for abandoned eggs; nest and chick protection from predators and human disturbances; and critical habitat protection.
Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring: Assessing the impacts of climate variability and change on Great Lakes evaporation, and implications for water levels.
Geoarchaeology and environmental history: Examining traditional Native American use of the landscape with a regional specialization in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the northern Great Lakes; cultural resource surveys using geoscience techniques including soil stratigraphic analyses, remote sensing, and geomorphology.
Geomorphology of the U.P.: Understanding the glacial history and glacial landforms; groundwater hydrology in bedrock terrain, and Lake Superior shoreline processes. The studies use remote sensing techniques, including LiDAR and Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data from various satellite and aircraft instruments to map landforms and quantify natural processes at work. For more info, go to nmu.edu.
Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), through its Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), coordinates a range of applied research and water initiatives, involving:
Water ecosystem monitoring. The Great Lakes Observing System, which involves deploying a series of coastal buoys in Lake Superior to gather information on water temperatures, the frequency and intensity of storms associated with global climate change.
The Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System involves numerical modeling of three-dimensional lake-scale circulation, thermal structure, and biological-physical interactions.
Michigan Tech is also a leader in using GIS (Geographical Information Techniques) and remote sensing techniques in answering questions related to aquatic ecosystems, including mapping and analyzing the movement and intrusion of mine tailings into fish habitats.
Michigan Tech is also engineering approaches to lake and river management. This involves mathematical modeling of surface water quality and studies of fish feeding, reproduction, habitat and survival studies. Also monitoring the behavior of metal contaminated sediments in the Lake Superior basin, and changes in ecosystem function with sand accumulation in the salmon and trout rivers. For more info, go to mtu.edu.
Established in 1974 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) conducts high-quality research and provides scientific leadership on important issues in both Great Lakes and marine coastal environments leading to new understanding, tools, approaches, awareness, and services. GLERL is a federal laboratory that provides coastal constituents and federal, state, and international decision- and policy-makers with scientific understanding of natural hazards such as severe waves, storm surges, and ice. Also harmful algal blooms, ecosystem and food web interactions including threat and impact of aquatic invasive species, changes in lake water levels, and regional effects related to global climate change. For more info, go to glerl.noaa.gov.
Michigan State University (MSU) is home to major water research and education centers, including:
For more information go to www.msu.edu.
Wayne State University (WSU) hosts major water research and collaborative education initiatives including:
The HEART Freshwater Center – a unique alliance of agencies (WSU, MCC, Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, and Macomb County) working together to study the Huron to Erie Corridor through research, education and training. The alliance is engaged in aquatic ecosystem restoration work. It provides a home base from which field studies can be launched in nearby wetlands and laboratory analysis of their chemical and biological composition can be most conveniently initiated.
WSU’s Urban Watershed Environmental Research Group conducts a host of high-impact research investigations including real-time system optimization for sustainable water transmission and distribution — pioneering information
tools to improve water and wastewater infrastructure performance, more sustainable water transmission and distribution.
WSU is developing software that will integrate with existing water utility operating systems to achieve energy reduction by improving pumping efficiency throughout entire water systems. WSU is also developing rapid, reliable, accurate, simple and cost effective methods for water quality monitoring for fecal contamination, and to apply fecal marker technologies – such as microbial source tracking – for identifying the sources of fecal contamination.
WSU’s College of Engineering is conducting a critical evaluation of waterborne bridge scouring and impact on the condition of bridge infrastructure. For more information go to www.wsu.edu.
‘Many have likened water as the new oil, but unlike oil and other energy resources, water is critical for sustaining life on Earth.’
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
Wayne State University
Central Michigan University hosts a broad spectrum of water education and research activity, including coordinating the multi-institutional Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR), and the Center for Geographic Information Science.
Major projects and initiatives: A basin-wide Great Lakes coastal wetland-monitoring program; a aquatic invasive species (AIS) monitoring and management plan development; a project linking energy transfer from coastal wetlands to the $7.5 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery; managing an unmanned aerial vehicle hyperspectral remote sensing platform for wetland ecosystem analysis; assessing Erie Canal Corridor invasion risk using environmental DNA; the development of an environmental metagenetics approach for monitoring aquatic biodiversity; estimating Asian carp abundance using environmental DNA; and Programs coordinated for the National Science Foundation with other colleges and universities to enhance STEM Education with research-based environmental experiments. For more info go to www.cmu.edu.
The University of Michigan (U-M) has a diverse array of water education and research disciplines and institutes, working water issues on a global, Great Lakes-regional and local basis. Major institutional elements include:
The U-M Water Center was established in October 2012 to bolster freshwater ecosystem restoration and protection efforts. It engages researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and nonprofit groups to support, integrate, and improve current and future freshwater restoration and protection efforts. The Center just received a $20 million federal grant to manage the investigation and find solutions to the toxic algae in Lake Erie that shut down Toledo’s water system.
The Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, that supports research teams that study an array of issues affecting the Great Lakes and Michigan’s coastal areas. These projects focus on complex
environmental challenges, meeting and anticipating changing needs of stakeholders and decision-makers.
The College of Engineering operates a number of major water-based research and education efforts. Its Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences (AOSS) bridges engineering and science – AOSS studies space, climate and the atmospheres of planets while creating relevant space systems and instrumentation.
The Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAME) faculty and students conduct cutting-edge research in robotic remote sensing and mapping of our world’s waterways using autonomous, unmanned vehicles.
The School of Natural Resources and Environment is engaged in a variety of Aquatic ecosystem monitoring, conservation, restoration and education efforts. For more information go to www.umich.edu
The Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) at Grand Valley State University is a multidisciplinary research organization committed to the study of freshwater resources. Major research and education areas (of many) include:
AWRI is also tracking Au Sable River brown trout and monitoring walleye reproductive and recruitment success in the Muskegon River. They’re
investigating the stock identity of suspected migratory yellow perch, which potentially represent a unique life-history type, moving between Lake Michigan and drowned river mouth lakes.
Herbicide Resistance. Several projects focus on herbicide resistance in invasive milfoil populations.
AWRI is also studying the long-term field performance of the bio-sand water filter in Haiti – assessing the sustainability and efficacy of drinking water purification filters installed there.
AWRI operates its own research and education vessels, and offers the Water Resources Outreach Education Program for schools and community groups. More than 155,000 students and passengers have experienced the Great Lakes and adjoining waters through this hands-on science program that features vessel cruises. For more information go to www.gvsu.edu/wri.
‘We cover the entire gamut of what one might be expected to do if they worked in a water or wastewater plant, so they know the terminology and the lingo that people speak.’
Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) has programs and degrees in Freshwater Studies with three specialty streams: science and technology; global freshwater policy; and sustainability, economy and society. NMC also offers a new marine technology programs with course offerings as diverse as underwater archaeology, meteorology and climatology, oceanography, watershed science, underwater acoustics and sonar, marine GIS and data processing, water policy, ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) systems and operations and seaplane flight.
NMC maintains one of the nation’s few maritime programs – students are able to become merchant marine officers and business professionals in a global marketplace. Curricula range from seamanship, navigation and piloting to steam and diesel engineering. NMC maritime alumni sail with fleets of the Great Lakes and oceans, with many serving as masters or chief engineers.
Additional professional certification offerings including: radar plotting and collision avoidance, radar theory, observation, operation and use, and navigational exercises.
The college is engaged in a number of water research initiatives, including hydrographic surveying and subsurface robotics in the Great Lakes, and ROV support of underwater imaging for early detection of invasive wildlife and fish species. NMC also maintains the Great Lakes Online Water Library (OWL), a free, online, digital repository housed at NMC’s Osterlin Library for use by local and regional associations (lake, river, watershed) for long-term archiving of information accessible by anyone.
Another initiative at NMC is the Tribal Voices of the Watershed, a significant collection of stories from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who have lived for more than three generations near Grand Traverse Bay. For more information go to www.nmu.edu
‘I get the spiritualness the Native Americans had to this place. Restoring the rapids will be century-forming impacts for the next hundred years.’
“Explore the Shores” is an outgrowth of Manistee county’s first countywide visioning initiative: Envision Manistee County.
“Lakes to Land Regional Initiative” is an unprecedented collaborative effort in Michigan that sees 18 units of government working together to update their master plans and develop action strategies for the region – from Manistee to Frankfort, and inland around Crystal Lake. Phase One is nearly complete. A major focus will center on building water-based recreational destinations that can be linked to promote four-season tourism and community placemaking. This initiative has been financially supported with grants from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Michigan Department of Treasury Competitive Grant Assistance Program, and others.
To the north, in Grand Traverse and Benzie County, a Boardman River Watershed Prosperity Plan has been completed. It provides an entirely new template for watershed planning. A main purpose is to preserve the environmental features of the Boardman River Watershed and identify how its unique attributes can be leveraged for economic development.
‘Marquette’s waterfront today features physical connections to its historic downtown and reclaimed public space for the community, alongside an active port.’
Criptonic Energy Solutions was formed in August 2005 to function as an independent power provider of renewable energy. They’re working to implement the use of a patented design that utilizes sewage/wastewater as an energy/electrical power source. CES is on course to introduce a new way to produce electricity to the renewable power generating industry. The patented solution utilizes sewer waste material to operate hybrid turbines and waterwheels. The turbines and waterwheels drive electric generators to make electricity. This process can operate at up to 90 percent efficiency without releasing by-products into the environment.
Unlike coal burning and nuclear facilities, there are no dangers to the environment or hazardous waste that require safe and costly disposal. The technology has the potential of stabilizing power grid infrastructure as well as end-user cost. The power facilities are located underground and are non-critical with zero emissions. The power that is produced is cost-effective with low operating and maintenance costs. For more info, go to criptonicenergy.com.
Beckett & Raeder, Inc. is a corporation founded in 1966 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, with additional offices in Petoskey and Traverse City. The firm has a full-time staff of 20, including landscape architects, planners, civil engineers, LEED accredited professionals, and a certified Main Street Manager. Services including sustainable design, land-use programming and analysis, master planning, campus planning, placemaking, site planning and civil engineering, stormwater management, downtown revitalization and redevelopment, community planning and urban design, economic development and ecological and environmental sciences. Beckett & Raeder’s impressive work in Petosky’s waterfront redevelopment was featured in the The Review magazine’s “Blue Economy” issue. For more info, go to bria2.com.
Sustainable Water Solutions provides integrated water treatment and re-use solutions. Its offerings significantly decrease operating costs and increases plant safety, while facilitating environmental compliance. The company helps Michigan’s water dependent industries run more sustainably – both economically and environmentally – providing a competitive advantage for a strong and diversified economy. SWS serves industrial, manufacturing, food processing, utilities, mining and petrochemical clients.
SWS optimizes client water-use management, enabling cost savings and increased focus on core manufacturing and production competencies. The company implements commercially proven technology and material surveillance systems. SWS tracks water and fluid management before entering the plant, during use, and before entering the sewer or discharge location. This translates into reduced chemical, gas, and water use with secondary savings throughout the plant. Typical results include an increase in equipment capacity and life, forgoing the need for additional waste water treatment ponds, boilers, and cooling towers or condensers. Their motto is: “If you can’t measure it,
you can’t manage it.”
SWS protects existing equipment installations, including boilers, cooling towers/condensers, waste water treatment lagoons, and processing equipment. SWS also improves facility compliance and sustainability.
SWS’s comprehensive water security, surveillance and monitoring suite is called Nereus. Nereus enables a complete and user-friendly overview of plant operation. It puts water, chemical and energy use at your fingertips. It’s easily accessed by computer or iPhone and can be fully customized to suit specific needs. Nereus helps you control costs, maintain very specific equipment parameters, and maximize production inputs better than ever before. For more info, go to sustainablewatersolutionsllc.com.
Headquartered: 4464 Lone Tree Way
Antioch CA 94531 – Michigan Operations
The Keweenaw Geothermal Research Group is a privately owned research and development company focused on Upper Peninsula geothermal assets. Their own assets include the original 40-acre parcel in Mohawk, Michigan, land that contains two Ahmeek copper mineshaft openings into the 6.1 mile-long Kearsarge Amygdaloid Lode. Today, at 80 feet from the surface, the underground workings are filled with geothermally heated water. Reservoir calculations estimate the total amount of water at 17 billion gallons. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the worth of such a thermal reservoir between $4 million and $32 million for space heating, direct use (hydroponics), or “direct to electric.” The company is working to raise resources to deploy geothermal heating at a large scale for key parts of Hancock, Mich. and potentially other communities.
Serv-A-Pure was founded in 1946 by Howard H. Herzberger in Bay City, Michigan under the name of Herzberger’s Water Conditioning. Initially the business sold basic water treatment systems such as water softeners, water conditioners, carbon filtration systems and ultraviolet light units. In November 1959, Dow Chemical Company asked for Serv-A-Pure to produce “deionized water,” or ultra pure water. Through a proprietary process, Serv-A-Pure developed the super-pure water necessary for industrial and high-tech uses. The business grew as the company designed, manufactured and sold reverse osmosis systems for larger and more complex industrial uses. As the demand for ultra pure water increased, the company developed water systems to meet (and exceed) the demands of a competitive ultra-pure water-treatment market. Today the market for super-pure water includes the precision manufacturing of semi-conductors, and similar high-tech products. For more info, go to servapure.com.
Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT) is an employee-owned, multidisciplinary water resources and environmental engineering consulting firm offering a broad range of planning, management, scientific and engineering services. ECT’s staff includes professional engineers, environmental scientists, fisheries biologists, ecologists, oceanographers, hydrologists, and geologists providing services and expertise in all disciplines of natural resource management.
Since its 1988 inception, ECT has grown to a staff of couple hundred with 19 offices in eight states. ECT’s services have been commissioned by hundreds of state and local government agencies, federal government, school districts, colleges and universities, professional associations, hospitals, foundations, and private corporations.
Clients from both the private and public sectors use the firm’s scientific research, analytical, and advisory capacities to develop and implement policies and strategic plans. Many of the firm’s reports have attracted national and regional attention, and have shaped public policies and attitudes. For example, ECT identified the process and developed targets for the removal of beneficial use impairments (BUIs) for ten areas of concern (AOC) in five states, including Michigan (Clinton River, Rouge River, Detroit River, St Clair River, and Raisin River), Wisconsin (Sheboygan River, and Milwaukee River), Wisconsin/Minnesota (St. Louis River), Indiana (Grand Calumet River), and Illinois (Waukegan Harbor). For more info, go to ectinc.com.
Algal Scientific was founded in 2009 with the mission of using algae to treat high-strength wastewater from a variety of industries, such as food and beverage production. A primary focus was developing and deploying patented technology that reduced customer costs for water treatment while providing a secondary benefit, a source of algal biomass that could be used for organic fertilizer and animal protein. Their Algal Scientific Hypertrophic Water Treatment Process uses a single-step process to remove soluble organics, nitrogen and phosphorus from medium to high-strength wastewaters, using microalgae to simultaneously remove the water contaminants. Rather than allowing an algal bloom to occur in nature, where it causes significant environmental and economic damage, the system creates a controlled algal bloom in compact growth troughs. Then the system separates the algae from the water, producing clean water to meet the regulatory requirements of customers or reduce the surcharges they pay, and creates a biomass resource to process and market, thus reducing costs to customers. For more info, go to algalscientific.com.
This longstanding firm based in Southeast Michigan provides consulting services for both the public and private sectors. These include civil/structural engineering, construction, cultural resources, environmental, geotechnical, landscape architecture. Mannik Smith has been a leader in developing and deploying green infrastructure projects and systems. Mannik Smith has directed hundreds of projects to completion on a wide range of environmental issues, including environmental investigations, brownfield redevelopment, ecological resources, site remediation and historic reconnaissance for federal, state and municipal clients, as well as private commercial and industrial clients. For more info, go to manniksmithgroup.com.
Grand Rapids-based Prein & Newhof is a civil engineering firm that designs water and wastewater treatment plants, municipal infrastructure, and provides environmental engineering and testing services. P&N’s leadership is bullish on Michigan’s potential to grow a Blue Economy – noting Michigan borders the most abundant and cleanest source of fresh water in the United States. As engineers, P&N takes great pride in designing systems that clean up dirty water and keep clean water clean. From an economic standpoint, water soon will be the “new” oil, and it will be Michigan’s No. 1 economic development advantage – attracting businesses to relocate here – so long as it’s used sustainably.
P&N’s support services include surveying, drafting and GIS. For 40 years they have worked with state and local governments and private clients to design sustainable systems that clean water, move people, reduce energy use and support Michigan’s quality of life.
Some examples of P&N’s “green” designs include stormwater systems that protect local rivers and streams; drinking water wells that provide long-term
supply without impacting other environmental resources; no-dig technologies (like directional drilling and pipe relining) that decrease erosion, fuel use, traffic delays, and construction-related waste; bio-filtration systems that eliminate toxic chemicals; trails and sidewalks that help reduce vehicle-based pollution and improve public health; and roads, pipes, and buildings made from recycled materials.
They also design low-maintenance water and sewer systems that use gravity whenever possible, reducing the number of energy-consuming pumps. Some of P&N’s projects reduce energy use enough to pay for themselves within a few years.
Challenges ahead include community financing issues — how can they pay for infrastructure maintenance and replacement? P&N’s engineers are using asset management principles to help clients manage their infrastructure systems better and more efficiently while helping them produce an income stream sufficient to keep them operating and protecting our environment. For more info, go to preinnewhof.com.
Detroit’s Parjana Distribution has been solving water problems since 2004. For example, the corporation invented a water technology to help solve the world’s most disruptive and deadly problems caused by standing surface and sub-surface waters. It’s a patented device called the Energy Passive Groundwater Recharge (EGRP). It actually harnesses gravity, vacuum pressures, and the expansion-contraction properties of the earth to facilitate the process of natural water drainage without the need for electricity. The product is based on a very simple tubular technology, which, when placed in the ground, pulls water off the surface down into the ground, underneath the clay, and into the nearby aquifers. The EGRP is a solution for many problems. It waterproofs structures by managing water runoff, eliminates standing water, and maintains constant moisture content in the soil. This innovative green infrastructure technology can play a significant role in avoiding expensive gray stormwater infrastructure, save energy costs from managing stormwater, and reduce and eliminate costly and dangerous water overflows and pollution. For more info, go to parjana.com.
Moore and Bruggink is a full-service municipal design, construction and engineering services firm based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They serve regional municipal and industrial clients and specialize in water and water treatment, transportation, and sustainable site and facility designs. Projects feature innovative technology, such as the anaerobic digester that was incorporated into the City of Greenville’s wastewater treatment plant. It creates power from wastewater byproducts and it cut the town’s municipal energy bill by 34 percent. The company sees growing markets and opportunities in cogeneration facilities, which would help clients on financing of infrastructure. They see a host of other business opportunities, from using wastewater effluent as a heat source to digestion technology for dairy farms. They see the need for policy and regulatory changes to support development of new technologies, and the need to utilize university research to find solutions to emerging water issues such as micropollutants. For more info, go to mbce.com.
Plymouth Technology specializes in innovative solutions for industrial wastewater treatment. The company provides water treatment chemicals, feed equipment and services for industrial manufacturers. They design and manufacture wastewater, boiler, cooling and reverse osmosis specialty water treatment chemicals, and are a source for proprietary metals removal systems. Plymouth also provides consulting services to support efficient water re-use and conservation. They recently launched a spin-off company, Valkyrie Environmental Water, which works with large companies to solve mining, power and groundwater issues. For more info, go to plymouthtechnology.com
H2bid connects water utilities with vendors around the world. The Detroit firm, which has been featured in everything from Fortune Magazine to The Wall Street Journal, provides cloud-based e-procurement services that simply make the water industry smarter. For example, 85 percent of the world’s water utilities are publicly owned and are required to engage in public bidding (or tendering) for infrastructure contracts. H2bid provides a central clearinghouse for advertising all water infrastructure bids (and tenders) and has launched a free, user-friendly, e-bidding service that will make the bidding process more efficient, more environmentally friendly, while reducing contracting costs for both utilities and vendors viagra in holland. The e-bidding service also helps water utilities enhance local economic development by making it easier for local businesses to participate in subcontracting opportunities. The company also has the largest database of industry vendors – which helps ensure that water utilities are getting the best solutions for the most
competitive prices. H2bid gives vendors access to the largest database of water/wastewater utility bid opportunities. They currently have bid opportunities from all 50 United States and Canada, expanding to other countries soon.
H2bid is currently adding additional “smart services” for water utilities and vendors to provide business insights. The firm has an online community for contractors and subcontractors (h2find.com), and maintains a popular blog containing original articles and information about new solutions to problems facing the global water industry (worldwaterblog.com). Companies with news and product announcements can have their articles and press releases posted on the blog at no charge, helping spread the word about new solutions in the water industry. (Articles and press releases can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Steelcase Inc. is a leading office systems company, headquartered in Grand Rapids. It boasts more than $3 billion in revenues with more than 10,000 employees around the world. Steelcase is also a business leader in sustainable business practices and innovation; showing impressive results, reducing water use by 70 percent since 2001, deploying new green infrastructure – stormwater collection and retention systems to manage water flow from their sites and irrigate their campuses. Steelcase is also working with its suppliers and customers to reduce the water footprint of their products, pioneering the development of a water footprint database for product lifecycle assessment practitioners worldwide to drive more efficient water use. For more info, go to steelcase.com.
Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. (FTCH) is a Grand Rapids-based professional civil engineering, architectural/engineering, environmental, and construction services consulting firm. FTCH provides comprehensive engineering consulting and design services for municipal, industrial, educational, and commercial clients, including innovative environmental engineering and management services for groundwater, soils, water system design and wastewater remediation projects.
FTCH is also a leader in designing green and LEED certified buildings, with more than 37 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professionals (LEED® APs) experienced in applying sustainability principles to buildings, interiors, and water efficient landscapes. Established in 1956, FTCH has grown to a global firm of over 340 people, with six offices in Michigan and neighboring states. For more info, go to ftch.com
Each filter is capable of meeting the drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing needs of a family, so 400,000 people have benefitted from Hydraid filtered water, greatly reducing sickness and death from waterborne parasites and bacteria among the users.’
‘People don’t understand the individual product implications of their choices, and how much watering their lawn is actually costing them. Now is the time to educate the consumer.’
‘As a company, and as a nation, we drew pride from how quickly Lake Erie and other areas recovered, and we gained a sense that environmental problems were not only scientifically understandable, but could actually be solved as well.’
‘This technology has the potential for great social consequence in communities around the world.’
‘Because of the importance of water to Michigan’s economy we are natural leaders for developing technologies that use it economically and sustainably.’
Ford Motor Company, a global transportation company headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, was recently rated No. 1 on Interbrand’s list of the 50 Best Global Green Brands. Ford claimed the top spot for its forward-thinking approach to environmentally responsible and sustainable manufacturing, greater transparency about its business operations, and for its disclosure of information, particularly in the area of manufacturing. Ford’s sustainability efforts focus on water.
Ford began their Global Water Management Initiative back in 2000. They set a target of three percent year-over-year water reductions. The target was upped in 2011 – when Ford announced a goal of reducing the amount of water used to make each vehicle by 30 percent globally, from 2009 to 2015. They hit this goal two years ahead of schedule. Between 2000 and 2013, Ford reduced their total global water use by a whopping 61 percent, or more than 10 billion gallons. (That’s equivalent to the water used for one billion five-minute showers, based on figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-sized pools.) They did this by cutting the water used in everything from cooling towers to paint operations. Ford decreased the total amount of water used around global facilities from 64 million cubic meters per year to 25 million cubic meters. For more info, go to Ford.com.