Mud Busters
Washtenaw County, MI

Grantee: Huron River Watershed Council
Basin Program Funds: $12,811.60
Non-federal Funds: $6,633.92
Project Duration: 09/1994 - 03/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Urban and suburban construction activities have been identified as a significant source of sediment entering the Huron system. Sedimentation has been reported by Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Fisheries Division to have impacted fish species negatively in the Huron River and its tributaries.

The Mud Busters program sought to strengthen enforcement of Michigan's Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act (Act 347, P.A. 1972) in the Huron River watershed, and fostered a sense of shared responsibility among government, land developers, and residents for the protection of surface waters in the Huron basin. The project supplements current interagency efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution in a priority watershed identified by the MDNR.

The Huron River Valley is home to over 445,000 people; several threatened and endangered species of fish, mussels, amphibians, and mammals; and a number of bogs, wet meadows, and remnant prairies of statewide significance. The Huron River provides a wealth of recreational opportunities to the residents of southeast Michigan and is the only state-designated scenic river in southeast Michigan. Much of the Huron River basin is coming under increasing development pressure. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) predicts that, given existing development trends, 40% of the remaining open space in southeast Michigan may be lost to urban and suburban development by the year 2010. Current urban and suburban construction activities have been identified as a significant source of sediment entering the Huron system.

This project: 1) supported the formation of a Soil Erosion Control Agents' Network to foster information exchange between soil erosion control officials; 2) developed a seminar to explain the ecological impacts of soil erosion and sedimentation to developers and contractors; and 3) trained citizen volunteers (“Mud Busters”) to recognize and report erosion control problems.

Soil Erosion Control Agents' Network: The Huron River Watershed Council has established a Soil Erosion Control Agents' Network. Members of the network meet on a quarterly basis to discuss such issues as increasing compliance with soil erosion control regulations and ordinances. Meeting attendees have included twenty-two agents from both enforcement and non-enforcement agencies (i.e., Natural Resources Conservation Service) from five counties: Ingham, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland, and Washtenaw.

Developers'/Contractors' Seminar: A workshop on soil erosion and sedimentation control for builders and contractors was held in February 1996. Twenty local builders took part in discussions on local erosion control regulations, site design, water quality concerns, and soil erosion control products. Participants rated the workshop very highly, stating that it clarified a number of concerns regarding permitting and soil erosion control requirements.

Citizen Training: Nineteen volunteers —“Mud Busters”—have been trained. Their monitoring efforts are currently focused around the headwaters of the Huron River in Oakland, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties. Training is designed to teach volunteers to identify the signs of erosion and sedimentation, to assess quickly if off-site sedimentation is occurring, and to report such sites to the proper agency. A standardized reporting form, developed by the project coordinator with input provided by local enforcement agents and MDNR personnel, was completed by volunteer teams (227 volunteer hours) for each observed construction site exhibiting off-site sedimentation. These forms were compiled by the project coordinator and sent to the appropriate local soil erosion control agencies.

In addition to the people reached through the Soil Erosion Control Agents' Network, the Developers'/ Contractors' Seminar, and volunteers trained as Mud Busters, the Huron River Watershed Council has undertaken a significant information and education program.

Information/Education Activities: Information on the Mud Busters program and the effects of erosion and sedimentation have been distributed and made available to the public through various vehicles such as the Huron River Watershed Council Newsletter (distribution of 2,300). Other information and education mechanisms include:

  • Huron River clean up in Milford (approximately 100 flyers)

  • Huron River Day in Gallup Park, Ann Arbor (50 flyers distributed, and demonstrations at the nonpoint source pollution booth which included a table-top runoff model of erosion and sedimentation)

  • Creek Fair, sponsored by the Huron River Watershed Council's Adopt-A-Stream Program and the Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner

  • Ann Arbor Flower & Garden Show (approximately 100 flyers)

  • City of Ann Arbor Water Fair (table-top runoff demonstration; flyers)

  • Article in the Huron River Watershed Council newsletter (circulation: 2,300)

  • Articles in the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor newsletter (circulation: 2,000) and the Ann Arbor News

  • Local television --Ann Arbor Cable Channel 9 broadcast of the video of the demonstration done at Creek Fair

  • Information notices through the Internet

Through these means several thousand people have been informed of the Mud Busters volunteer training program and the problems associated with erosion and sedimentation. Education efforts regarding the importance of soil erosion and sedimentation control efforts will continue through the Council's Adopt-A-Stream project, dissemination of the Council's quarterly newsletter, and through Council's on-going work with individual municipalities regarding land use and development practices

Contact: Paul Rentschler, Executive Director, (734) 769-5123


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