Glen Lake Watershed Established

Glen Lake Watershed Established

Did you know that the Glen Lake Association contributed in major ways to the original Glen Lake-Crystal River Watershed Management Plan? These plans—now called Watershed Protection Plans by Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy(EGLE)—need to be updated every 10 years to remain responsive to potential threats to water quality. The Watershed Plans have been and continue to be integral to water protection for Glen Lake and, by direct connection, the Crystal River.

When the first GL/ CR Watershed Plan was drafted in 2002, four GLA members, Sarah and Mike Litch, Jerry Powley and Ed Ricker, contributed to its preparation and the GLA provided financial support. Rob Karner, then representing the Leelanau School, and Mike Sutherland, Friends of the Crystal River representative, also contributed.

Before the first Watershed Management Plan was developed, the GLA helped fund an extensive water quality study that involved water quality monitoring from 2001-2005. 

According to the Watershed Management Plan, the GLA has supported education around a wide variety of Shoreline Protection measures. For example, the GLA has worked and continues to work with landowners to design, install and maintain Greenbelt Buffers. This one protection measure alone is the most effective thing riparian property owners can do to keep water clean.

In addition to Shoreline Protection, the GLA provided assistance through the Watershed Plan in the following areas:

Stormwater: The GLA mapped, identified problems, and worked on improvements to culverts and storm drains to the Glens, Crystal River, and Hatlem Creek.

Wastewater and Septics: GLA’s lake biologist Rob Karner helped develop a plan for evaluating and addressing potential pollution from septic systems. Additionally, the GLA staff worked with landowners to survey Cladophora on the shoreline to test for septic system leaks. Since that time the technology has changed and moved toward use of DNA sampling to identify connectivity between septics and surface water. Most recently the GLA was instrumental in establishing township-wide mandatory well and septic system inspections at time of property transfer in Glen Arbor, Empire and Cleveland townships. Two other areas of education included proper septic system design and proper application of septage from pumped septic tanks.

Human Health: This included work on monitoring and tracking effective Swimmer’s Itch prevention strategies. This work is ongoing.

Wetlands: The GLA assisted in working with other organizations to restore wetlands and monitor enforcement of possible wetland filling violations.

Invasive Species:  This included boat wash operation improvements over the years, conducting invasive aquatic plant surveys, development of and conducting an invasive species eradication program, and advocating with zoning and planning groups to develop invasive species ordinances.

Land Protection and Management:  This part of the plan worked to protect identified critical habitat areas and create an endowment fund to assist organizations such as the Leelanau Conservancy in purchasing conservation easements to permanently protect sensitive land parcels critical to clean water. A key function of land is to absorb rainwater and snow melt, preventing erosion and to filter excess nutrients and pollutants before water enters lakes and streams.

Development: This portion outlined allowances for provision of water friendly construction design consultations and a system of monitoring construction for best practices with builders and local government agencies. These protections include soil erosion control measures that prevent sediment from entering waterways.

Zoning and Land Use: Provided guidance in areas of zoning ordinances and master plans that protect water quality e.g., limiting phosphorus use in fertilizers and detergents. The purpose, to provide strategies to strengthen land use regulations.

Groundwater and Hydrology: This category involved numerous areas including groundwater discharge, gravel pit mining, GL water levels and CR in-stream flows, the Hatlem Creek subwatershed, abandoned wells, and fuel storage tanks etc.

Monitoring:  The GL-CR Watershed Plan listed 11 monitoring activities that the GLA undertakes to protect the watershed and shoreline.

Desired Uses: The GLA provided data to assist in developing a recreational carrying capacity models for Crystal River and Glen Lake.

If you are interested in complete information on the current Glen Lake-Crystal River Watershed Plan, including charts and graphs, click this link.