This document fulfills Permittee’s NPDES Phase II storm water permit requirement for a Progress Report. This report includes information on progress made over the time period stated on the cover towards compliance with the six minimum measures and other commitments made in Permittee’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiative (SWPPI) or Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) pursuant to the permit listed on the cover. Subsequently, Permittee submitted an application for a new permit, which has not yet been drafted or approved by MDEQ. Thus, this report follows items and requirements under the previous (expired) permi.
This document also reports on the assessment of water quality in the area affected by Permittee’s storm water discharge along with any changes made to Best Management Practices (BMPs) or Watershed Management Plans (WMP). The report follows reporting requirements specified in the permit and is organized by the six minimum measures, with additional reporting sections at the end.
I. Compliance Assessment
A. Public Participation Plan (PPP)
A PPP was most recently developed for most permittees in the middle Huron River watershed and submitted to the MDEQ in July 2009. It was revised and resubmitted in July 2010. A Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Middle Huron River was approved by MDEQ in 2008. Since that time, the permittees within the Middle Huron River Watershed have focused on implementing activities within the WMP and have additionally developed specific implementation plans to address water quality impairments. These activities are reported in other sections of this report.
Review and revision of the WMP
The 2008 version of the WMP was most recently reviewed and updated by the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) in 2010-11. It was then made available for public review via HRWC’s website. The WMP was approved by MDEQ in 2011. The WMP continues to be available to the public via the Huron River Watershed Council’s (HRWC) website at http://www.hrwc.org/publications/watershed-management-plans/ (number 7 on the list). The following TMDL Implementation Plans were also developed or revised and submitted to MDEQ:
Malletts Creek (biota impairment)
Swift Run (biota impairment)
Ford and Belleville Lakes (nutrient impairment)
Argo to Geddes section of the Huron River (bacteria impairment)
Additionally, in April 2014 a plan for Honey Creek (bacteria impairment) was submitted and approved by MDEQ in September 2014. That plan can also be found on the HRWC WMPs webpage.
The above plans are all referenced in the umbrella WMP and are available through the Middle Huron Stormwater Advisory Group (SAG) website at http://www.hrwc.org/middle-huron-sag/.
Citizen Advisory Committee
In 2008 the permittees within the Middle Huron River Watershed formed the Middle Huron Stormwater Advisory Group (SAG). This is a forum, open to the public, for planning, discussion and reporting on stormwater treatment and management practices. During the reporting period, the SAG met on the following dates:
October 9, 2013
February 25, 2014
July 22, 2014
November 13, 2014
April 2, 2015
Meeting agendas and lists of attendees to the meetings are included in Appendix A. All questions about meetings should be directed to Ric Lawson the SAG facilitator (firstname.lastname@example.org, 734-769-5123 ext.609).
In addition to the SAG meetings, HRWC and SAG partners also facilitate public meetings focused on planning and implementation activities within high priority tributaries. These groups include the Malletts Creek Coordinating Committee (MC3), the Millers Creek Advisory Team (MCAT), and the Fleming Creek Advisory Committee (FCAC). The MC3 and MCAT meet monthly to quarterly as needed.
The MCAT also met separately to advise on the development and review of a Sediment Accumulation Study, which was completed and is now available at http://tinyurl.com/nwfomfe. The FCAC was revived in March of 2013 and began meeting monthly in September 2013 to develop an informal watershed management plan and project priorities. The FCAC is currently in the data collection process and is developing project goals. All three groups also meet to review development proposals from within the tributary. A list of meeting dates is included in Appendix A. Attendees lists and agendas can be requested from Ric Lawson.
B. Public Education Plan (PEP)
The PEP section of our SWPPI was developed to promote, publicize, and facilitate watershed education in the Middle Huron watershed. Following is a summary of the progress made on PEP implementation.
[HRWC and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner included activities for the period September 2013 through October 2015, but permittees should fill in progress on their own public education activities and efforts to distribute materials provided by others] Activity #1: HRWC and/or Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water Informational Materials Brochures, tip cards, posters, and other materials developed by HRWC or the regional public outreach campaign, “Our water. Our future. Ours to Protect” were distributed by individual jurisdictions.
These materials contain information that covers required Topics 1-8. The overall campaign promotes key messages on proper use of fertilizer, car care, landscaping, storm drain awareness, household hazardous wastes, water conservation, pet care, and riparian protection.
During the reporting period the Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water met periodically to review existing materials and propose updates and revisions to the campaign messaging and delivery methods.
Updated tip cards on storm drains, landscaping, household hazardous waste, pet care, lawn care and car care were released by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments in the spring of 2015 for printing and distribution. See http://semcog.org/What-You-Can-Do/To-Protect-Our-Waterways.
Further details on Partners for Clean Water activities can be found in their 2014-15 report (http://semcog.org/Portals/0/Documents/Plans-For-The-Region/Environment/PartnersforCleanWaterReportSeptember2015.pdf). Their previous report covering October 2012 to September 2013 can be obtained upon request.
Activity #2: Community Watershed Calendar During the reporting period HRWC and participating communities produced, printed, and distributed 37,000 2014 and 33,000 2015 Watershed Community Calendars presenting a full year of monthly informational pollution prevention tips targeted to homeowners in a single piece. The tips and provided resources are related to permit topic requirements such as illegal dumping, fertilizer and yard care, rain barrels, pet waste, car care, rain gardens and native plants, home toxics, storm drain awareness and general watershed education.
Participating communities distributed calendars to residents either through direct mail*, at customer service counters or through other channels as follows:
HRWC distributed calendars through direct mail, at key organizational events and in person, promoting it through HRWC’s printed newsletter (direct mailed to 2,000 recipients), marketing emails (5500+ recipients), home page blog (9,000 monthly average unique page views), and social media announcements on Facebook and Twitter.
The 2014 Watershed Community Calendar also included a special 8-page “H2O Hero Handbook.” 1,000 additional handbooks were printed and distributed to watershed residents at community events throughout 2014. See activity #12, below.
Activity #3: Information in Community Newsletters and on Websites Seasonal newsletter inserts of tips and information on nonpoint source pollution prevention topics are developed by HRWC and made available in pdf format for community use on www.hrwc.org/our-work/programs/middle-huron-sag/ (under Public Education Materials).
These materials also include a series of 12 advertisements in various sizes and formats (jpeg, pdf) that correspond to the Watershed Community Calendar branding, monthly topics and messaging.
Additionally HRWC publishes announcements, articles, tips and promotions that focus on nonpoint source pollution prevention and water quality information using the following distribution channels:
www.hrwc.org (98,778 sessions with 196,372 page views overall during the period September 1, 2013 through August 27, 2015--65.65% new visitors).
www.facebook.com/huronriver (1,279 page likes as of August 27, 2013 to 1,892 page likes as of August 21, 2015).
Monthly e-mail newsletter (5,632 average monthly contacts with an average open rate of 20.1%).
Printed quarterly newsletter (direct mailed to over 2,000 HRWC members and distributed to the following watershed libraries: Huron High School, Ann Arbor District, South Lyon, Milford, Chelsea, Belleville, Flat Rock, Pinckney, Ypsilanti District, Brighton Public, Dexter District).
The featured landing page of the calendar and ads, www.hrwc.org/h2oheroes and homeowner tips pages in the “Take Action” section, www.hrwc.org/take-action had the following results over the reporting period:
www.hrwc.org/h2oheroes (featured landing page of calendar and ads) 110 page views with 89 unique page views.
www.hrwc.org/take-action/capture-rain (content pages featuring rain gardens, rain barrels and native plants) – 3,263 page views with 2,458 unique page views. “Garden with native plants” was the most popular topic with 67.3% of the total page views going to that tips page.
www.hrwc.org/take-action/waterfront-wise -- 230 page views with 212 unique page views.
www.hrwc.org/take-action/save-water-save-energy -- 834 page views with 704 unique page views.
Activity #4: Local Newspaper and Web Advertisements 2014 – 12 months of print ads placed in the Ann Arbor Observer going to City of Ann Arbor residents with a circulation of 60,000 and a readership of 120,000. See ads at www.hrwc.org/our-work/programs/middle-huron-sag/ (under Public Education Materials).
Ads resembled and reinforced the Watershed Community Calendar messaging, promoting the dedicated campaign web site, www.hrwc.org/h2oheroes which contains detailed information and additional resources.
Activity #5: Promote Water Resource Protection Workshops
Across the entire reporting period, HRWC also organized and promoted the following community events/workshops incorporating water quality and nonpoint source pollution prevention informational materials:
Water Quality Monitoring volunteer trainings, March 2014, 2015
Educator Trainings, April, 2012
Volunteer Data Sharing, November 2014, 2015
Sectional River Clean-ups, Summer 2014, 2015
River Round-Up, April and October, 2014, 2015
Stonefly Search, January, 2015
Huron River Walks, May16, June 17, 2014
Huron River Paddle and Education Trips (6 total), Summer 2014, 2015
Washtenaw Green Infrastructure Planning (with SEMCOG), September 2013
Climate Resiliency – Water Infrastructure planning February, April 2015
Water Quality Celebration Honoring Rep. John Dingell, July 2014
Malletts Creek and Fleming Creek Subwatershed Advisory Group meetings, quarterly, 2014, 2015
HRWC State of the Huron Conference, April 2014
HRWC Annual Meeting, April 2015
Swift Run Stakeholders Meeting, July 2015
Master Rain Gardener Program:
The Washtenaw County Master Rain Gardener class was offered:
Thursdays - February 27-March 27, 2014, and
Wednesdays - February 26-March 26, 2015
Please see the full description under Activity 20 – Residential Rain Garden Program.
Activity #6: Promote and Support Volunteer Stream Monitoring
Each year, HRWC hosted several activities or monitoring events that inspire the protection of local fresh water resources. One event measures the physical conditions (described below) and the other event (“bio-monitoring”) measures the aquatic invertebrate community.
In bio-monitoring events, held in January (Stonefly Search), April (River Roundup) and September (River Roundup), volunteers spend the day as part of a small research team, examining the conditions of two streams. Streams are selected to be strikingly different in quality. Each team collects samples of creatures (macroinvertebrates). They notice immediately that one stream is teeming with life while the other appears nearly “dead”. This comparative difference is an effective way for residents to discover for themselves that some local streams have deteriorated while others remain healthy which leads to inquiry about the causes of stream deterioration, the conditions of their local stream, and possible solutions. HRWC attempts to visit 40 locations per event (3 per year), which our volunteers have been able to keep up with. In 2013 we visited 107 unique locations (some duplication), in 2014, 82 (Stonefly was cancelled due to severe weather), and we’ve been to 77 sites thus far in 2015.
A follow-up report and annual presentation by HRWC responds to volunteer concerns by providing results of the monitoring events and an explanation of the primary causes of local stream deterioration, tools to address local stream issues and “tip cards” or information for homeowners and other residents on protecting water quality.
Annually in the summer volunteers measure the physical conditions of streams. They learn to “read a river” by studying the conditions that affect the ecological health of the sites. Participants form small teams to complete an evaluation of at least one site.
HRWC’s program serves the entire watershed, a 900-square mile area that drains into the Huron River and then into Lake Erie. The area includes approximately 525,000 residents and parts of seven counties in southeastern Michigan, primarily Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. The pool of volunteers, who live in many of the in 67 watershed communities, is currently around 600, with up to 150 routinely participating in each event. HRWC has successfully drawn volunteers from throughout the watershed. Over 2014 and 2015 we have focused recruitment in the TrailTowns (Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock). While recruitment from these municipalities is slowly growing, the increased outreach, along with other TrailTown activities, have garnered numerous additional new partnerships and overall public awareness.
Additionally, HRWC operates a Water Quality Monitoring Program on behalf of partners in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties. This program, which utilizes volunteer sample collectors, is described in more detail in the Water Quality Data and Assessment section.
Activity #7: Catchbasin/Storm Drain Labeling (for communities with storm sewers) Adopt-a-Stormdrain Program
Stormdrain awareness is a priority for public education efforts of stormwater phase I and II regulated communities. Historically, many communities have labeled and marked stormdrains with language that explains that they go directly to the local surface waters. This effort was usually combined with the distribution of door hangers that provided more detailed information about stormwater, non-point source pollution and the proper disposal of motor oil, grass clippings, pet waste, and other pollutants. With many of the urban stormdrains now labeled/marked, the effort has shifted to maintenance by local street or public works staff.
In 2010 the Middle Huron Stormwater Advisory Group members began development of an Adopt-A-Stormdrain program for key areas of Washtenaw County. The program is designed to recruit public and private partners to take sustained action to keep stormdrains labeled, clear and clean by working with a committed group of individuals. These volunteers also report problems to the local governments and serve as the neighborhood watchdogs and educators.
HRWC developed the program format and structure, creating waivers, intake and reporting forms, instructions and tips, etc. See www.hrwc.org/our-work/programs/adoptastormdrain/. Volunteers participated in the program by clearing debris from and applying new “Dump No Waste, Drains to River” markers to stormdrains and distributing informational door hangers to nearby neighborhood residences.
In June 2014 and 2015 the program hosted a crowd-sourced stormdrain art event at a key community festival, the Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair. Stormdrains located at the fair’s central intersection were decorated with chalk by a professional artist and the public with direction by an art educator. Informational flyers promoting the Adopt-A-Stormdrain program were distributed to attendees. HRWC staff and volunteers promoted the connection between stormdrains and water quality.
During the reporting period the 125 Adopt-A-Stormdrain program volunteers donated 400 hours of service, while placing 400 stormdrain labels and 1850 door fliers. Service was delivered to multiple locations in Ann Arbor as well as Ypsilanti Township. The Adopt-A-Stormdrain web page has experienced 485 page views with 398 unique page views. The program’s volunteer sign up page has 383 page views with 270 unique page views in the same timeframe.
Activity #8: Promote County-Wide Complaint Tracking and Response System The Washtenaw County Environmental Reporting Line (734-222-3800) is in operation during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 to 5:00) and staffed by the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division. Brochures promoting the Environmental Reporting Line are distributed at County Offices, provided to local governments for lobby and/or special event distribution and are available from the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office upon request.
Activity #9: Promote Soil Testing Beginning January 1, 2012, phosphorus fertilizer applications are restricted on residential and commercial lawns in Michigan, including athletic fields and golf courses statewide. This includes applications by both homeowners and commercial applicators.
The general rule in the Michigan Fertilizer Law is no phosphorus fertilizer may be applied on residential or commercial lawns, unless it meets an exemption. The sale of phosphorus fertilizers in the marketplace is not impacted. Phosphorus applications for agriculture, gardens, trees, and shrubs are exempted. In September 2011 HRWC participated in a phosphorus fertilizer workgroup coordinated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. MDARD produced a homeowner brochure and additional phosphorus information (available at www.michigan.gov/mda-fertilizer and www.BePhosphorusSmart.msu.edu).
In 2012, the soil testing program transitioned to a web-based mail in program run by MSU Extension where consumers were directed to purchase ($25) a soil test kit, mail-in their samples and get results by email which they then plug into a website tool for interpretation. A total of 1,075 pageviews were recorded on the Washtenaw County soil testing information page at http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/extension/ex_extsoil.html.
HRWC promoted the “go phosphorus free” messaging to the public in April 2014 and 2015 through the Watershed Community Calendar (Activity #2), Information in Community Newsletters and on Websites (Activity #3), and Local Newspaper and Web Advertisements (Activity #4).
Activity #10: Riparian Land Management Brochures During the reporting period HRWC produced a 12-page booklet, “Waterfront Wisdom, 7 tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful and healthy waterfront,” an updated adaptation of a booklet designed by Environmental Consulting & Technology and published by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner. A series of tips web pages have also been posted with information and resources for shoreline property owners on shoreline buffers, aquatic invasives, preventing soil erosion, and benefits of keeping boats clean.
These materials were developed and printed for the outreach requirements of the Portage Creek Implementation Project funded in part through the Michigan Nonpoint Source Program by the US Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act, assistance agreement C995474-12. The project direct mailed them to 1800 Portage Creek riparian homeowners and bulk quantities were provided to Unadilla, Lyndon, Dexter, Village of Stockbridge, Stockbridge and the Department of Environmental Quality. A digital version of the booklet is also publicly available at the web site. See at www.hrwc.or/take-action/waterfront-wise.
HRWC and participating communities printed additional booklets (not funded by the Michigan Nonpoint Source Program) for distribution to riparian landowners outside of the Portage Creek project area. During the reporting period 925 print booklets were distributed in person directly to watershed residents.
Activity #11: Stream and River Crossing Road Signs Through a partnership with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, Washtenaw County Road Commission and local governments, 59 stream crossing signs were designed, produced and installed in highly traveled Phase II County road rights-of-way areas to promote watershed awareness to residents and visitors.
Activity #12: Displays and Outreach at Local and Regional Fairs and Community Events HRWC coordinated and staffed watershed information displays and table activities at the following community events during the reporting period:
Eastern Michigan University Green Week (March/April 2015)
Earth Days: Schoolcraft College, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor and Whole Foods (April 2014, 2015) and Toyota and Milford (April 2014)
Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair (June 2014, 2015)
Huron River Day (July 2014, 2015)
Milford Farmers Market (July 2014)
Dexter Daze (August 2014, 2015)
Hudson Mills Fly Fishing Festival (August 2015)
Ypsilanti Heritage Festival (August 2014)
University of Michigan EarthFest (September 2014, 2015)
Flat Rock Riverfest (September 2014, 2015)
Park It on the Lakelands Trail in Pinckney (September 2014)
Milford Community Picnic (September 2015)
At the 2014 Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival in April, HRWC hosted a unique tabling activity for children, helping them decorate “H2O Hero Masks”, handing out H2O Hero Handbooks and teaching them about the Huron River watershed. Over 350 masks were made during the 4 hour festival with help from six Honor Society volunteers from Skyline High School.
In 2014 and 2015 in March HRWC partnered with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, to host a booth at the Washtenaw Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show. Both years, the booth featured native plants and rain garden displays and information and in 2015 Waterfront Wisdom and riparian information became a highlight. Experts in sustainable landscaping (Drew Lathin, Sustainable Landscape Designs) and rain gardens (Susan Bryan, WCWRC) were on hand to promote and advise homeowners on best practices. Leading up to Home, Garden & Lifestyle, WCWRC and HRWC appeared as guests to present “Rain Gardens 101” on the Lucy Ann Lance “Around the Home” show, 1290 WLBY on February 27, 2015 to promote the booth.
In 2015 at Ann Arbor’s Huron River Day in July HRWC hosted a stream-monitoring demonstration and watershed education booth for children and families. Participants from HRWC’s volunteer stream monitoring program were on hand to show and tell macro-invertebrate indicator species, demonstrate monitoring equipment and recruit volunteers for HRWC’s October River RoundUp. Participating communities from the Middle Huron also sponsored a stream simulation table educational exhibit from the University of Michigan’s Museum of Natural History. The activity provided children hands-on opportunities to explore how water flows, erosion, effects of flooding, the consequences of human activities on water quality, and much more.
Activity # 13: Community Partners for Clean Streams
The Community Partners for Clean Streams (CPCS) program is a voluntary, cooperative effort between the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office and Washtenaw County businesses, institutional landowners and multi-family residential complexes. The goal of the program is to help identify practical, cost-effective ways to protect Washtenaw County waterways through pollution prevention. CPCS is a cost-free initiative that provides information, technical advice and recognition to participants. There are currently over 110 partners involved in the program. For additional information visit: www.ewashtenaw.org/cpcs.
Activity #14: Pollution Prevention Inspections Washtenaw County Pollution Prevention (P2) Inspections review chemical storage/handling practices, look for illicit connections, ensure compliance with relevant federal, state and local laws and provide a report and technical assistance where remediation is necessary. Washtenaw County Environmental Health offers P2 inspections at no cost to Phase II communities and agencies responsible for inspecting municipal facilities under Phase II requirements. During the reporting period, over 600 P2 inspections were conducted by the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division. See http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/pollution_prevention.
Activity #15: Green Media
In collaboration with local partners (City of Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan University), Washtenaw County uses the website www.ewashtenaw.org to bring environmental education to the public in a variety of forms. Information is distributed via newspaper articles, award-winning informational videos, monthly television shows, and weekly radio programs. The Green Media website was developed to serve as a single resource for the County’s educational outreach efforts. http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/recycling_home_toxics/green_media/green_media.html.
“Issues of the Environment” Radio Show (WEMU – 89.1 FM)
The Issues in the Environment is a weekly radio program hosted by David Fair on WEMU. Every Wednesday morning the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division introduces a special guest speaker. Some examples of the water quality related topics include: Making Your Living Spaces Greener, Safer, And More Sustainable; Preventing Wet Basements; Swift Creek Improvements; Resolving To A More Sustainable 2015; Storm Water Management; Toxic Algae In Toledo's Water Supply; and Environmentally Responsible Boating. A complete listing of program topics can be found online. See: http://wemu.org/programs/isues-environment?page=1.
“The Green Room” Radio & Television Show (WEMU – 89.1 FM; CTN – Channel 19)
The Green Room is a collaboration between the City of Ann Arbor's Community Television Network (CTN) and the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division. Airing of each new episode begins on the second Tuesday of the month on Channel 19, and continues throughout the month following this schedule: Mondays 11:30 AM, Tuesdays 5 PM, Thursdays 11 AM, Fridays 5:30 PM, Saturdays 10:30 AM, and Sundays 7 PM. The show is produced by Barbara Lucas and Tim Nagae. Through her work with the County, Barbara also co-produces a monthly Green Room radio show with WEMU 89.1FM. A variety of topics are covered each month, some examples during the reporting period include: Michigan's Sugarbush - Environmental considerations of the Maple Sugar Industry; Toxic Algae: An "All of Us" Issue; River Renaissance; Rain Gardens; "Green" Restaurants; The Carbon Footprint of Water; and the River Through Time. A complete listing of episodes and the topics covered can be found online. See:
http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/recycling_home_toxics/green_media/greenroom/green_room_radio Additionally, a variety of environmental video projects have been produced by the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division. Videos such as Water Quality: It’s in our Hands, Septic Systems and Water Quality, and Safe Disposal of Medications are posted on the Washtenaw County website and can be viewed anytime: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/recycling_home_toxics/green_media/green_media.html.
Activity #16: Environmental Excellence Awards The Environmental Excellence Awards were held in April 2014 & 2015 in conjunction with National Pollution Prevention Week. Winners are selected to receive an award in the following categories: Water Quality Protection, Waste Reduction & Recycling, and Pollution Prevention. The Overall Environmental Excellence winner must be on organization that excels in all three categories and participates in the Washtenaw County Community Partners for Clean Streams, WasteKnot and Pollution Prevention programs. For award winners in all three categories plus the overall winner (if applicable), see Table 1 below. Advertisement(s), press releases and website postings are used to recognize awards winners. See http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/recycling_home_toxics/environmental_excellence/envex.html.
Table 1: Environmental Excellence Winners for 2013-2015
Activity #17: Fats, Oils, and Grease and Litter Reduction Series 9 in the Community Partners for Clean Streams program highlights proper disposal of fats, oils and grease (FOG). Food service educational materials are available to educate restaurants about FOG disposal and clean-up procedures. These packages include CPCS Series 9, a FOG brochure, and a FOG hauler listing. Additionally, there have been 540 pageviews to the FOG Information on the County website (www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/food_safety/eh_fatsoilsgrease.html) during the reporting period. Customers are primarily directed to the electronic information rather than providing physical documents.
Activity #18: River Safe Homes Program
The River Safe Homes Program offers Washtenaw County residents online, user-friendly water quality protection information that is geared to homeowners. Participants take an online survey to assess how the pollution prevention activities they already do and pledge to do can protect and improve water quality around their homes. The topics covered in the survey include:
Proper Pet Waste Disposal
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal
Upon satisfactory completion of the survey, participants receive a “RiverSafe Home” plaque that may be displayed at home entrances. The purpose of the plaque is to inform visitors about the water quality protection activities and commitment made by the homeowners who live there. A hard copy RiverSafe Home booklet and survey are also available for residents who do not have internet access.
During the reporting period, over 330 RiverSafe Home surveys were completed. Of that number, a majority represents participation by residents from the City of Ann Arbor who partnered with the WCWRC’s Office by way of the City of Ann Arbor Stormwater Rebate Program. Since the program kick-off in 2007, the RiverSafe Home program has grown to approximately 2,600 members.
Activity#19: Other Public Education Activities Related Specifically to E. coli and phosphorus TMDLs
HRWC promoted the Middle Huron partnership’s efforts to reduce phosphorus by featuring program achievements in a large poster display to 350 guests at its annual fundraising events Suds on the River, 2014. Efforts presented included work to develop stronger soil erosion controls for construction projects, enact ordinances that protect shoreline plant buffers and that restrict the use of phosphorus fertilizer on lawns, restore unstable and eroding stream banks, protect wetlands and natural areas, and build stormwater systems using Green Infrastructure techniques to hold and infiltrate polluted runoff.
Additionally HRWC regularly publishes articles in its quarterly newsletter the Huron River Report (circulation 2,200) that feature issues related to E. coli and phosphorus TMDLs. Articles during the reporting period included the following:
“Green and Clean, Understanding “Green Infrastructure” (Spring 2014);
“Ford Lake’s Legacy, The mixed history of the impoundment” (Summer 2014);
“Green Infrastructure Innovation, Coming soon to a neighborhood near you” (Fall 2014);
“Toxic Bacteria Impacts Lake Erie Communities, Harmful algal blooms and their connection to the Huron River watershed” (Winter 2014);
“Rainy and warm? The forecast for a toxic algal bloom,” September 25, 2014;
“Toxic Algae Blooms in Lake Erie,” August 11, 2014;
“2014 Leaves the Huron Nutrient Story Complicated,” December 24, 2014; and
regular coverage of phosphorus current events in, “News To Us” a monthly blog post and e-mail to 5,500+ recipients of curated news content.
Activity #20: Residential Rain Garden Program
Since 2005 more than 208 rain gardens have been designed and installed at residential, church, and institutional properties through this program. In 2015 (through June) 24 new gardens were constructed. In 2014, 35 new gardens were constructed. The project was initiated as a Clean Water Act 319 grant but has since been funded by both the County and the City of Ann Arbor. An average of 10 gardens are constructed each year through the Rain Garden Assistance Program, and an average of 19 built through the Master Rain Gardener training program. In the assistance program, design and one-on-one assistance with construction are provided. Master Rain Gardeners are trained to design and build rain gardens, and to serve as neighborhood educators. Gardeners are responsible for all material costs and construction. See: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/drain_commissioner/dc_webWaterQuality/rain-gardens
The Master Rain Gardener class was developed in 2010 and first taught in 2011 as a formal train-the-trainer class. In cooperation with MSU Extension and the City of Ann Arbor, the first annual Washtenaw County Master Rain Gardener class was offered the spring of 2011, and each year subsequently. The class focuses on developing a volunteer corps of residents who can design and build rain gardens and can then spread practical knowledge and assist others in their community.
Results of Master Rain Gardener class:
Residents Trained as MRG
Rain Gardens Built
The County offers materials and opportunities to enable Master Rain Gardeners to act as neighborhood educators. Rain Garden props prompt neighbors to ask questions, providing an opportunity for a productive discussion about landscape practices. These props include interpretive signage (developed in 2008), t-shirts (developed in 2014), nametags (developed in 2012), and certificates. So far in 2015, 130 t-shirts, and 14 signs were distributed.
Master Rain Gardeners have begun to take on leadership of maintenance of public rain gardens, the most prominent being the Miller Avenue rain gardens in Ann Arbor. An orientation and two workdays were planned through the program, and the rain gardens have thrived, serving as an attractive “poster child” for green infrastructure. Neighbors and Master Rain Gardeners have turned out for a total of 250 volunteer hours, and the gardens survived two very snowy, salty winters. Other rain garden maintenance work has included rain gardens in three City of Ann Arbor parks, and two Ann Arbor Public Schools rain gardens. These maintenance projects were spearheaded by Master Rain Gardeners themselves, and totaled more than 155 volunteer hours.
Master Rain Gardeners continue to volunteer to do outreach - promoting rain gardens. Thirteen public presentations at community groups regarding rain gardens were given by a Master Rain Gardener trained through our program. One rain garden, designed by a Master Rain Gardener, was included in a public garden tour: the Ann Arbor Farm and Garden Silver Jubilee Walk 2015. Two articles were written by Master Rain Gardeners in local publications. Rain Garden staff participated in interviews, resulting in two TV appearances and one news article: CTN, WRBO Street Beat, and the Ann Arbor Observer.
In 2015, the Rain Garden Leadership Awards were established, in partnership with the Environmental Excellence program. Ten awards were given in the categories of Demonstration, Education, Public Stewardship, Condominiums, and Schools.
Activity #21: Washtenaw County Home Toxics Reduction Program The Washtenaw County Home Toxics Reduction Program has a permanent facility at 705 N. Zeeb Road that accepts household hazardous waste from the citizens of Washtenaw County. Examples of the household hazardous waste (HHW) materials that are accepted include: paints, aerosols, cleaners, motor oil, cooking oils (vegetable, canola, olive, etc.), pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, paint thinner, solvents, varnishes, wood preservatives, mercury, fluorescent light bulbs, and home repair products. A complete listing of the acceptable and non-acceptable items can be found on our website at http://recycle.ewashtenaw.org/.
Collection facility hours of operation take place the first 3 Saturdays of the month from 9:00 am until noon beginning in April and ending in November. Collection during the winter months (December-March) is available by appointment. Appointments are also scheduled for those citizens unable to use the facility during regularly scheduled hours.
The Home Toxics Reduction Program collected 765,958 pounds of household hazardous wastes in 2013 and 2014 combined (see table 3 below). Since 1995, over 3 million pounds of HHW has been collected through this program.
The Waste Knot Program works to develop relationships within the Washtenaw County business community to increase waste reduction and recycling activities. The program provides community-wide recognition and organization-based technical assistance along with value-added education to organizations that exhibit leadership in waste reduction and recycling or to organizations that desire to become leaders in waste reduction and recycling. Currently there are 317 businesses participating in the program.
For more information, please visit the Waste Knot Program website at http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/recycling_home_toxics/waste_knot.
County Clean-Up Day Events
Regional “Clean-up Day” Events
Clean-up day events are held in cooperation with the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Division, and local municipalities and universities. Collection day details are included in Table 4 below. Specific data on amount of household hazards waste collected and the number of attendees is available on the website:
Table 4: Bulk Collection Data from Special Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Event
Items Collected @ Special Events
Electronic Waste (lbs.)
Activity #22: Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs and Personal Care Products/Pharmacy Drug Take-Back Program The Medicine Take-Back Program consists of twelve (12) participating pharmacies that serve as collection points for the general public to take unused, expired or unwanted medicines for safe disposal. Since 2008, over 9,300 pounds of medication has been collected and disposed of properly.
The County’s website www.dontflushdrugs.com includes disposal locations and information on:
Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program
Big Red Barrel Program
Locations Around Michigan
Medication and Personal Care Product Disposal Guidelines (including our 4-min. VIDEO on proper disposal)