Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan Partnership
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water. In Michigan, all watersheds eventually flow into one of the Great Lakes. Watersheds don’t follow city, township and village boundaries. Instead, their boundaries are created by the nature of an area’s topography, and depend on the height and slope of the land that directs water to a common point in the landscape.
What is a Watershed Plan?
A Watershed Plan is a cooperative activity in local and regional land-use planning that recognizes watershed boundaries rather than political boundaries ( for example, cities, townships and villages) and considers water resources management as the central planning objective.
Why Do We Need a Watershed Plan?
Chris Swan, Center for Watershed Protection said it best: “The most compelling reason to create a watershed plan is because small communities often have an excellent opportunity to protect their water resources prior to development, rather than trying to restore them after the degradation of water quality has occurred.” Having a watershed plan will also provide a point of reference for land-use decisions that involve community water resources, avoid decisions that don’t take into consideration the desires of the community, and ensure the wise use of water resources to help maintain a high quality of life for current and future generations. Having an approved Watershed Plan will help attract grant dollars so that watershed projects desired by the community can be implemented. And finally, one of the top 3 priorities from visioning sessions of the 15 communities that are participating in the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative dealt with maintaining and improving water quality and watershed planning.
Do Other Communities Have Watershed Plans?
More than 150 Watershed Plans have been developed at the local level with help from DEQ grants from the Non-Point Source program. Below are the approved DEQ Cadillac District Watershed Plans.
CMI Approved Plans CMI and 319 Approved Plans
Betsie River Bear Creek (Manistee Co.)
Black Lake Cedar Lake
Boardman River Cheboygan River, Lower Black River
Elk River Chain of Lakes Glen Lake/Crystal River
Hamlin Lake/Big Sable Grand Traverse Bay
Herring Lake Higgins Lake
Little Manistee River Lake Charlevoix
Manistee River Lake Leelanau Watershed
Mitchell Creek Little Traverse Bay
Mullet Lake Long Lake (Grand Traverse Co.)
Platte River Ocqueoc River
Thunder Bay River, Main Branch Pere Marquette
Thunder Bay River, North and South Branches Pine River/Van Etten Lake
Upper Au Sable Portage Lake
Upper Clam River Upper Manistee
The map of the approved watershed plans can be located on page 10 at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ deq/wrd-nps-approved-watershed-plans_431187_7.pdf
Why Do Watershed Plans Have to be Approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)?
To be eligible for grant funding through the federal Clean Water Act under Section 319, or the Clean Michigan Initiative(CMI) Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant program, the watershed management plan must meet certain criteria and be approved by the DEQ. The DEQ evaluates each watershed management plan to determine if it meets CMI grant-eligible criteria, and if it also meets the 9 Elements required for federal grant funding under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The watershed management plan can be approved under just CMI or both CMI and Section 319.
What Will the Watershed Plan Be Used For?
As stated in the Partnership Agreement, the plan will be used to provide watershed-based educational programs to all stakeholders, engage youth and adults in watershed management and monitoring projects, guide water quality monitoring and watershed restoration, develop complementary recreational, business and other initiatives, develop funding tools to sustain implementation of the plan and will be used to secure state, federal and other sources of funding to implement the plan.
How Will the Watershed Plan Integrate With the Master Plan and Recreation Plan?
The watershed plan development will be guided by the Master Plan Cornerstones, Recreational Plan Goals and Objectives (if these 2 plans have been developed) and the community values identified in previous plan development and visioning sessions conducted through the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative or other local efforts. Community input will be a crucial part of the watershed plan development process. The watershed plan will be reviewed to ensure consistency between and among the various land-use plans of each community in the watershed. In addition, the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative has identified common regional goals and values which will also be considered as the watershed plan is developed.
How will the watershed plan affect the personal use of my property?
The watershed plan will identify various water quality issues important to the community and identify needed protections, remediation, and enhancements. The watershed plan will serve to educate community members about what the issues are, and help individual landowners address those issues, if appropriate. The city, township or village can use the watershed plan (and the Master Plan for that matter) to guide future zoning provisions focused on storm water and water quality. Most zoning ordinances have a procedure for granting variances (that is, exceptions to the zoning rules) generally because of some expressed hardship by the property owner due to the particular nature of his/her property.
How will the watershed plan affect economic development?
High quality water resources are a fundamental necessity for economic development. It’s necessary for agriculture, recreation and tourism, and business in general and is considered an important component for community livability. Degraded water resources can discourage economic development. The watershed plan will help identify sensitive areas that require protection, such as areas relied upon for drinking water supplies. It will also suggest areas where Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be necessary to eliminate non-point source run-off into rivers, streams and wetlands in the watershed.
What is a Best Management Practice?
The DEQ’s Nonpoint Source Watershed Planning report describes a Best Management Practice (BMP) as a land management practice that a landowner implements to control sources or causes of pollution. There are three types of BMPs that treat, prevent, or reduce water pollution:
a) Structural BMPs: “brick and mortar” practices that require construction activities to install, such as storm water basins, grade stabilization structures and rock rip-rap.
b) Vegetative BMPs: use plants, including grasses, trees, and shrubs to stabilize eroding areas.
c) Managerial BMPs: involve changing operating procedures at a site.
What is the Financial Cost to the Community and How Will the Funding be Handled?
The cost for consultant Beckett & Raeder to prepare the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan is $85,000. A 15% match is required, totaling $12,750 (which is 15% of $85,000). The Alliance for Economic Success (AES) will serve as the community partner for the watershed plan, along with the Manistee County Community Foundation (MCCF). Two funds will be set up at MCCF: one will be an Endowment Fund that requires a minimum of $5,000 to establish, and the other will be a Maintenance Fund, requiring a minimum of $500 to set up. The dollar matches for both funds will be raised by tax-deductible charitable donations and MCCF will receive and acknowledge each donation. It is hoped that the community support for the watershed plan will encourage community members to voluntarily provide whatever charitable contributions they can afford.
How Can I Make a Charitable Contribution?
Donors will be able to contribute online through the MCCF website at www.manisteefoundation.org or by check made payable to the MCCF with the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Fund listed on the memo line. MCCF will also provide assistance for donors who wish to make gifts of cash, bonds, real estate, or other assets including planned gifts. In addition, MCCF can coordinate donation receipt through a third party, as well as anonymous donations. For donation questions, you may call MCCF at 231-723-7269. MCCF’s mailing address is: 395 Third Street, Manistee, Michigan 49660.
What Opportunities Do I Have to Participate in the Watershed Plan Development Process?
There will be many opportunities to participate that will involve as much or as little time as you have! The watershed plan will be developed through an open, inclusive process, so there will be opportunities to serve on the Watershed Leadership Team, the Executive Committee, and other subcommittees that may be established. Help will be needed to obtain watershed plan Partnership Agreement signatures of support, fund-raising, development of informational materials and educational programs, community engagement including watershed plan visioning sessions, and water quality monitoring. Volunteer needs will be posted on the Arcadia Township website: www.arcadiatwpmi.org, and on this page.
What Am I Agreeing to if I Sign the Partnership Agreement and How Much Time Am I Expected to Devote to the Plan Process?
At a minimum, you are agreeing that the Arcadia-Pierport Watershed Plan is a good idea for the community to prepare and implement. It is hoped, but not required that community members will participate in one or more of the activities listed in Question 13 above, to the extent that they comfortably can. There are no minimum time requirements for participation. However, that said, we encourage you to share your views, dreams, desires and concerns about the watershed plan and help the watershed community collaboratively identify and prioritize what projects to focus on to protect, maintain and improve our watershed for the future.