Citizens Finance Lake Cleanup in Michigan, USA

While federal funding for land and water conservation activities has been slashed tremendously, other methods of financing such projects are surfacing at the state and local levels.

Michigan’s Governor signed into law a bill which allows citizens to support lake cleanup within their own communities. The measure, Public Act 345, was amended to permit lake residents to release bid invitations on lake improvement work and secure a contract for such work if two-thirds of the residents involved sign a petition. When the project is completed, residents are then assessed for the work via the tax rolls.

The first reclamation effort launched under Michigan’s Public Act 345 was a major cleanup of Stopke Bay at the north end of Cedar Island Lake at the mouth of the Huron River near Pontiac.

Stopke Bay, which has been suffering from decayed leaves generated by a healthy growth of trees lacing its shoreline, has received practically no maintenance since it was constructed. Being relatively shallow with an average depth of 4-1/2 ft., the bay has experienced rampant weed growth. Consequently, algae and scum blanket the surface. Obnoxious odors add to the unpleasantness.

Rejuvenation begins
The Lake Improvement Board formed by Stopke Bay residents accepted a bid for the cleanup work fielded by Aquatic Reclamation, a division of Volk Trucking & Excavating.

The deteriorated state of Stopke Bay demanded a substantial cleanup effort. Aquatic Reclamation brought in a Mud Cat to handle the task.

The Mud Cat, a 16,000 lb. machine engineered to remove accumulated sedimentation, weeds, and hydro-soil to a depth of 10-12 ft. below the water surface, is a flotation barge measuring 30 ft. long and 8ft. wide. It is well suited to shallow depths such as encountered at Stopke Bay because it can operate in as little as 27 in. of water.

The machine is operated by two men, one on the craft and another on shore. It is propelled by pulling its way along a cable secured either in the water and on shore or from shore to shore. Up to 18 in. of situation can be removed in a single pass. Waste material is conveyed through a discharge pipe to waiting trucks or receptacles for disposal. The discharge pipe can be extended up to 2,500 ft. from the work point.

The Stopke Bay project not only illustrates citizen concern for lake conservation but also demonstrates a feasible method of financing such work. Several other states are reportedly reviewing Michigan’s Public Act 345 with an eye to adopting similar legislation to expedite lake cleanup within their own states.

Reprinted from Land & Water Development