Melding technical information with community effort--a watershed council's role in water quality protection

TitleMelding technical information with community effort--a watershed council's role in water quality protection
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1985
AuthorsGannon JEdward, Gold AJ, Magee C, F. Bricker J
Conference NameLake and Reservoir Management: Practical Applications, Proceedings of the 4th Annnnual Conference & International Symposium
Date PublishedOctober 16-19, 1
PublisherNorth American Lake Management Society
Conference LocationMcAfee, NJ

Lakes in northern Michigan were showing subtle signs of cultural eutrophicatin in the 1970's. An opportunity existed to implement lake protection measures, thereby avoiding more costly lake restoration procedures later on, but lakes with relatively good water quality do not often arouse much public concern. We maintain that if there is a need for a lake protection program, the local community must take the leading role. We describe here a cooperative effort betwen a technical information source (The University of Michigan Biological Station, later succeeded by the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council) and a local user community (a group of lake assocations), whereby a limnological research program melded with a grassroots community effort. Five key areas of concern vital to water qualtiy protection were identified: wastewater management, lakeshore population density control, riparian wetlands protection, creation of lakeside greenbelts, and water quality monitoring. Some successes were achieved in all areas and, in addition, local watchdogging of development permits was effective. The information source (Biological Station) was important in identifying and documenting problems in the 1970's, but problem-solving was achieved primarily through community effort (Watershed Council and associated lake associations) in the 1980's. The Watershed Council gradually assumed the role of principal information source, strengthening communication links and assuring long-term local involvement in lake protection programs. Based on our experiences we propose an environmental communications model that may be useful in implementing water quality activities elsewhere.