Muskegon Lake/White Lake Water Quality Project
Muskegon County, MI

Grantee: Muskegon County Soil Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $103,868
Non-federal Funds: $75,473
Project Duration: 10/1992 - 09/1995
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Sediment with attached contaminants (pesticides and nutrients), dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen, streambank erosion, excessive flows and groundwater contamination are the major concerns affecting water quality in Muskegon Lake and White Lake. These sources of nonpoint pollution are causing algae blooms, accelerated weed growth and reduced fish habitat. It is estimated that 95% to 98% of the sediment and nutrients entering Muskegon and White Lake come for the watershed basin.

The Muskegon Lake/White Lake Water Quality Project builds on the advancements made in the PY 1993 White Lake Water Quality Program and expands the scope of the project to include Muskegon Lake, also an Area of Concern (AOC). For reporting purposes the expenditure information and the results information have been combined. Muskegon Lake and White Lake were designated an AOC by the International Joint Commission (IJC) due to impaired uses. The goal of the project is twofold: a) to prevent further pollution to ground and surface water resources by reducing sediment with attached contaminants and nutrients; and b) to prevent further degradation of Muskegon Lake and White Lake water resources by providing information, education materials and opportunities to watershed residents.

According to the Michigan Resource Information System (MIRIS) data for the White River-White Lake Watershed, there are approximately 80,000 acres of cropland in the basin. Using the average percentage of cropland needing treatment for the three counties, it is estimated that 50.5% or 40,400 acres of the White River cropland acreage needs conservation treatment to reduce soil erosion to tolerable limits. This project will focus on an estimated 7,500 acres of cropland in the immediate watershed surrounding these lakes that need some sort of conservation treatment. The treatment may vary from gully erosion treatment to implementing a conservation tillage system or rotation to reduce sheet, rill and ephemeral erosion. One-on-one pollution prevention assistance will be provided to 30 agricultural producers in the target area. The implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP) will reduce present soil loss by an estimated 10,000 tons during each year of the project. The installation of two sediment basins over the next two years on eroding tributaries will be coordinated with local, state and federal units of government, private landowners and other interested parties.

An average of 18-20 farms have implemented BMPs in each of the three years of the project. A list of the BMPs and other project accomplishments follows.

  • As of August 1995, 106 soil samples have been pulled on seven farms totaling 1,683 acres. Results and recommendations have been sent to the landowners. The savings in nutrients are: nitrogen—8,600 lbs., phosphorus—3,366 lbs.; and potassium—7,100 lbs.

  • A total of 4,100 feet of grass waterway has been installed on two farms, saving 90 tons of soil.

  • Four farms are practicing Integrated Crop Management (ICM) on 273 acres. ICM is a farm management practice used to manage nutrients and pests in an economic and beneficial manner. Practices include sprayer calibration pest scouting, fertility management, and record keeping. Six sprayer calibrations have been performed, and with the other practices have saved an estimated 1,638 lbs. of pesticide.

  • Two manure management systems utilizing composting have been developed and are being implemented. The development and implementation are a result of a grant from the Michigan Integrated Food and Farming System (MIFFS) Collaboration, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Main sponsors are the Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association (MASA) and MSU-Extension. The Muskegon County Soil Conservation District received the grant with Greg Mund, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service, acting as project coordinator

  • Conservation tillage has been used on 1,700 acres saving an estimated 5,793 tons of soil.

  • Cover crops totaling 960 acres have been planted saving an estimated 1,920 tons of soil.

  • One rock chute structures has been installed saving 25 tons of soil.

  • Two sediment basins have been installed, keeping approximately 1,800 tons of sediment from entering White Lake.

  • One gully treatment/restoration project, utilizing the bioengineering approach, is being designed for the Montague drain.

In total, implemented BMPs have impacted 4,616 acres, saving an estimated 9,628 tons of soil in the three years during which this program has been active.

Information and education efforts continue to raise the awareness of urban and rural residents surrounding White Lake and Muskegon Lake regarding nonpoint source pollution problems:

  • In partnership with a number of other groups, four public meetings have been held on lawn fertility, management, stream and shoreline landscaping, and water quality issues. Approximately 268 people have attended these meetings. Seven other presentations were given on the project to the Public Advisory Councils (PACs) attending the Great Lakes Commission semi-annual meeting in Milwaukee, the Citizens' Conference in Port Huron, at a meeting at Wayne State University, and in two presentations to local officials.

  • 350 storm drains have been stenciled within the Muskegon city limits. Stenciling was done by high school students (40) and neighborhood association members (6).

  • 36 news articles have been published in local newsletters and papers between November 1993 and August 1995.

  • Staff support has been provided to the Muskegon and White Lake PACs. Recent updates of the 1987 Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for both Muskegon and White Lake have been completed. Additional grants have been obtained to help the PACs achieve their objectives.

  • In conjunction with the Muskegon and White Lake Public Advisory Councils, a "Lake Watch" program has been established. Interested volunteer citizens will monitor four water quality parameters.


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner