Possible New Controls on CAFOs

January 22, 2020 10:54

By: Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

EGLE (formerly DEQ) regulators want to revise how the environmental risk from spreading livestock waste on farms is evaluated as part of a new “draft” general permit for industrial scale agriculture businesses known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs that would, among other things, prohibit the application of manure on farm fields during three winter months.

Public comment was open through Dec. 18, 2019 on the proposed updates to the state’s general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for CAFOs. The last revisions to the NDPES Permit Program occurred in 2015 and applied to over 250 NDPES permitted farms in Michigan. Michigan has delegated authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue NPDES permits and the state says its proposed changes were developed with EPA input.

EGLE released its planned revisions in late October 2019. Farm industry advocates blasted the proposed changes, while environmental advocates say the new requirements are important measures that will protect water quality and improve public access to permit records.

In Michigan, waste from confined animal farms is usually stored in large lagoons and spread on fields as crop fertilizer. While that can help increase crop yield, it can also degrade water quality when nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen run off into lakes, streams, and rivers as well impact groundwater and wells.

There have been numerous discharges from land application of CAFO waste, especially during winter and this has raised concerns for regulators. Among the larger changes proposed is a ban on spreading CAFO manure in January, February, and March when the ground may be frozen and there is a higher risk of nutrients in the waste sliding into waterways rather than percolating into the soil. Some spreading could occur at the end of March with state regulatory approval.

One of the largest updates is the phasing-in of a screening tool that would replace a simple soil test for phosphorus levels when assessing the risk of manure application. The Michigan Phosphorus Risk Assessment (MPRA) would account for erosion, runoff potential, distance to surface water or a field edge, subsurface drainage, and vegetative buffers.

As of January 12, 2020, the draft version of the permit changes had not been updated to reflect any of the public comments received during December 2019. EGLE has set an April 1, 2020 target date for the implementation of the revised NDPES Permit Program. MLSA will continue to monitor this important matter for the riparians of our state.

A Statement Regarding MWA

January 22, 2020 10:53

The Michigan Waterfront Alliance (“MWA”) was created by officials of the Michigan Lakes & Streams Association, Inc. (“MLSA”) over 20 years ago as an adjunct organization to MLSA. For a variety of legal and other reasons, MWA was established to pursue lobbying and similar activities.

Regrettably, MLSA and MWA have lately had deep philosophical and other disagreements. You may have recently received an email communication from MWA via Scott Brown and Bob Frye regarding that dispute. Unfortunately, MWA has decided to “air its dirty laundry” in public. MLSA has not done so. Suffice it to say that there are always two sides to every dispute, and MLSA does not agree with many of the claims made in MWA’s recent email newsletter. 

MLSA will attempt to resolve its differences with MWA “within the family” and will not try to make a public spectacle out of any disagreements. 

Updates Proposed to Bottle Deposit Law

January 22, 2020 10:52

By: Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

Rep. Jon Hoadley and Sen. Sean McCann have recently introduced legislation seeking to expand Michigan’s bottle deposit law to all beverages except milk containers and provide funding to address contaminated sites.

HB 5306 and SB 701 would modernize the state’s “bottle bill.” The intent of the legislation is to make the changes needed to keep pace with the ever-evolving beverage containers, including the explosion of single-use plastics. Further, the beverage market has changed from being dominated by pop and beer to water, tea, and other drinks now taking up most of the market. Riparians are well aware of the single use containers that increasingly end up in Michigan’s rivers, lakes, streams, and landfills. The plastic containers can also become a source of micro-plastics in our water resources.

Besides expanding containers subject to a deposit, the bills would implement universal redemption, create a bottle handling fund, make funding available for audits and fraud enforcement, and provide $25 million annually to address contaminated sites. Both bills are now in their respective Regulatory Reform Committees for review. No hearing dates on these bills have been scheduled as of January 12, 2020.

Join the Discussion on Facebook!

December 18, 2019 09:59

Are you looking for a way to network with other lakes around Michigan? Join us for discussion on Facebook, we now have a MLSA member group! Follow the link: Michigan Lakes and Streams Members, click + Join Group, answer the membership questions, and standby for approval. See you there!

MLSA Sponsors Lake Research Student Grants Program

December 18, 2019 09:53

MLSA and the Michigan Chapter North American Lake Management Society (McNALMS) are pleased to announce the 2020 Lake Research Student Grants Program. The purpose of the program is to promote student efforts to work on inland lakes and/or with lake communities to enhance inland lake management. Projects that increase the understanding of lake ecology, have applicability to Michigan lakes, strengthen collaborative lake management, address inland lakes fisheries, build lake partnerships and/or expand citizen involvement in lake management are eligible for consideration. This year, McNALMS and MLSA expect to fund two or more projects from a total pool of $4,000. Proposals may be part of a larger project. Proposals will be funded for one calendar year.

Examples of previously funded projects include:

  • A study on littoral zone restoration and nutrient enrichment source impacts on macrophyte and epiphytic algal communities
  • Exploring drivers of cyanobacterial blooms with time-series observations, biogeochemical modeling, and in situ experimentation in a model Great Lakes estuary
  • An analysis of phosphorus loading and the ecological impacts from agricultural tile drains in a west Michigan watershed
  • A study looking at social, cultural, and economic factors underlying lakeshore property owners’ willingness to conserve natural aquatic habitat on their properties.

Applicants must be either University/College graduate student(s) conducting applied research/outreach projects; University/College undergraduate student(s) working on special studies projects; and/or Students enrolled in the Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute, Michigan Conservation Stewards Program, or similar Watershed Academy.

If you know a student who might be interested in applying for funding, please pass this information on to them. Deadline for submission is February 21, 2020. Announcement of recipients will be made by the end of March 2020.

Results are in – 2019 EAPW

December 18, 2019 09:51

by Paul J Sniadecki, Board Director

Results are in! Dr. Jo Latimore, MSU, announced that volunteers in Michigan’s Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch (EAPW) searched 38 Michigan lakes this summer. The “terrible trio” of Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and starry stonewort were found in 19 lakes. The good news is that the citizen monitors discovered no new European frog-bit infestations/contaminations. EAPW is part of the MiCorps/Cooperative Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP), and the EAPW parameter has been measured since 2007.

Michigan’s Specialty Fund Raising License Plate – Water Quality, provides some funding for the Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch program.

For decades, Michigan has prepared a State Management Plan (SMP) for Invasive Species and a “Watch List” for Invasive Species not yet found in Michigan. On the Michigan Watch List are: Parrot Feather, European Frog-bit, Yellow Floating Heart, Water Hyacinth, European Water Clover, Water Lettuce, Water Chestnut, Hydrilla, Water Soldier, and Brazilian Elodea. Participants in the EAPW program are positioned to realize early detection of any watch list plants that might have contaminated/infested their lake.

Get Involved with Your CISMA

December 18, 2019 09:46

by Melissa DeSimone, MLSA Executive Director

Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) coordinators from all corners of both peninsulas gathered together this week in Gaylord, Michigan. While the snow fell outside, coordinators, steering committee members, and officials spent two days working together to better serve the state of Michigan’s invasive species needs.

The daily work completed by the CISMAs to help educate people about invasives and to control species in their areas is all funded by grant money. The coordinators shared their plans for the most effective projects and the best grant programs to tackle the high priority species in their areas. CISMAs survey and treat for invasive species, assist landowners in treatment with cost sharing programs and equipment rental, and educate the public in their areas about invasive species spreading through their area and how they can stop transmission.

Each CISMA operates in a way that is unique to the area, so contact your local coordinator to see what is going on in your county. You may be able to get involved with your CISMA by joining the steering committee or utilizing their educational programs, click on the link below for more detailed contact information.

Seeing Spots?

December 18, 2019 09:43

by Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

If you are a human being, ”seeing spots” before your eyes is many times a sign that you might need prompt medical attention. If you want to protect Michigan waters from further Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) contamination and infestation then “seeing spots” is desirable.

During the summer of 2019, boaters in Illinois began “seeing spots” that provided them time and space to Inspect, Remove, Drain, and Dry their watercraft after being on the water. Illinois has a state law similar to the Michigan’s law to inspect and drain that became effective on March 21, 2019.

Illinois’s Waukegan Harbor and North Point Marina are leaders in the state’s Transport Zero effort, signs direct boaters to a dedicated area with detailed diagrams and information on how to follow the law. This dedicated “spot” and performance aids make it easy for boaters to comply with the law.

This practice is consistent with human behavior research studies that say if you want to humans to behave in a certain way, then make it easy for humans to be good.

So, what about Michigan’s boating access sites? Has anyone observed dedicated “spots” being created for the required Inspect/Drain/Clean of watercraft? Given Michigan’s vast water resources and the known scope of existing AIS contamination, should responsible leaders include “spots” to assist watercraft users to comply with the new law? Since Illinois access sites have boaters “seeing spots”, it should be easy for Michigan access sites to have their own “spots.”

CLMP/MiCORPS Funding is Still Possible

November 21, 2019 13:58

Attendees at the 15th Annual MiCORPS Conference report that NO end of the CLMP/VSMP program was announced on November 19, 2019. If the future of the valuable program, was “hopeless” then the conference would have most likely explained how any “shutdown” would be handled. In fact, our Riparian Reporter on location indicated attendees were enthusiastic and all were making plans to monitor lakes and streams in 2020.

MLSA is encouraged that funding for the second longest Citizen Scientist/Volunteer Monitoring Program in the USA remains a possibility in 2020. Nothing “official” about 2020 funding has been announced, so we all must wait and hope for a positive development.


Stay tuned to this MLSA eNEWSLETTER for the latest about CLMP and all things Riparian. MLSA remains the voice and action leader for all matters involving Michigan’s Lakes and Streams. To share your thoughts, or for more info, contact us at

Submitted by: Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

EGLE to ease permitting process for sandbags as temporary measure against shoreline erosion

November 21, 2019 13:56

Nick Assendelft, EGLE Public Information Officer,, 517-388-3135



The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy today announced a new Minor Project category that will make it easier for lakeshore property owners to get a permit for the temporary use of sandbags as immediate stabilization measures to protect homes and other critical infrastructure.

The Minor Project category will provide for faster permit processing for homeowners and a reduced permit fee of $100. Under the new category, a public notice will not be necessary for stabilization projects meeting review requirements.

EGLE emphasizes that sandbags are not a permanent solution to erosion problems and the bags eventually must be removed. Property owners should work with a contractor to design a more permanent solution, such as boulders, riprap, or even moving homes and other infrastructure farther inland.

Property owners who seek to take measures to protect their property from record high water levels still need to file a permit application through EGLE’s MiWaters portal. EGLE is expediting permits where there is a risk to structures, human health, and safety. In many cases, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also needs to review the permit application, which is filed jointly through MiWaters.

Since Oct. 1, EGLE has issued more than 100 shoreline protection permits across the state. Of these, 60 percent were issued within three days of receiving a completed application. Between Oct. 1, 2018, and Sept. 30, EGLE issued 730 permits for Great Lakes projects, some of which were non-emergencies. Fifty percent of the 730 permits were issued within 30 days of receiving an application and 21 percent were issued within 10 days.

In October, EGLE announced it would expedite permit applications to protect homes or structures that are in danger due to record high water levels. Permits can be approved within days of a completed application being filed, when under normal circumstances the process takes 60-90 days. The shoreline permitting process ensures a balance between protecting property and freshwater dunes and shorelines.

EGLE has made a number of resources available for shoreline property owners:

  • A new website – – where property owners can search for the latest information, find links to helpful topics, begin the permitting process, and search a list of contractors.
  • Added staffing to take calls through the Environmental Assistance Center — 800-662-9278 –between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and answer inquiries at
  • Increased overtime for field staff to quickly process shoreline permits.
  • A webinar that explains the reasons behind high waters and shoreline erosion, and EGLE’s rule and permit changes.
  • Go to to begin the permitting process and find related links.

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