PZC co-hosts public meetings on improving water quality in the Saginaw Bay in April

The Planning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the East Michigan Council of Governments are hosting a series of three public hearings on "New Opportunities to Improve Water Quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed."

Satellite image of Saginaw Bay courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Response Team NASA

The Planning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the East Michigan Council of Governments are hosting a series of three public hearings on "New Opportunities to Improve Water Quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed."

The hearings are part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project currently underway by PZC to identify actions cities, villages and townships can take through local planning and zoning to improve and protect water quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The project is designed to engage communities and other local stakeholders in the application of land use Best Management Practices (BMPs) to protect water quality of rivers and streams that flow into the Saginaw Bay. The highest priority communities in this project include those within the Cass, Rifle and Pigeon/Pinnebog River sub-watersheds.

The project seeks to educate and facilitate collaboration at three public meetings; one within each of the three sub-watersheds. The meetings will be a catalyst for local citizens and stakeholder groups to learn how local planning, zoning and coordinated efforts among various stakeholder groups can play a larger part in protecting and improving water quality in the entire Saginaw Bay region. The meetings will be held on the following dates and times at the following locations:

Rifle River
Thursday, April 21, 2011, from 5:30pm-7:30pm
Page Street Senior Center, West Branch

Cass River
Wednesday, April 27, 2011, from 3:30pm-5:30pm
Frankenmuth Scout Building, Frankenmuth

Thursday, April 28, 2011, from 5:30pm-7:30pm
Huron Expo Center, Bad Axe

Members of the following groups are urged to send a representative to one of the public meetings: Watershed organizations; soil conservation groups; county Farm Bureau chapters; Conservation Districts; local groups working to protect or improve water quality; Planning Commissioners and elected officials; county and municipal officials who work on water quality issues; land owners and farmers along drains, rivers and streams in the Basin; and interested citizens.

What Each Public Meeting Will Cover:

  • Water quality problems in the watershed.
  • Past projects aimed at improving the water quality of the Saginaw Bay.
  • Current projects underway to address pollution within the watershed and restore damaged lands.
  • How local land use planning and zoning policies can protect and improve water quality.
  • How effective relationships with other groups can influence the success of improving water quality.
  • An opportunity for your input on a Basin-wide Conference being planned for January 2012.
  • An opportunity to voice questions/concerns about the project.

Saginaw Bay Watershed Area of Concern
The above mentioned communities reside within the single largest drainage basin in Michigan; the Saginaw Bay Watershed. This impressive watershed drains an estimated 1,143 square miles of land within a variety of environments, ranging between agricultural lands, forests and urban places. Since 1987, theBay has been listed as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the EPA, which cites numerous impairments to water quality; some are persistent nuisances, while others are more serious threats to public health. Collectively, these impairments have earned the Bay an image problem of national proportions--and it's time we redouble our efforts to work together to clean things up and prevent more pollution!

While delisting the Saginaw Bay's AOC status is the overall goal of GLRI, clean water in a sustainable Bay can only be attained by a collaborative effort involving communities, local groups, interested citizens and property owners in coordinated action! The future of the Saginaw Bay depends, in part, on the leadership and determination of these communities and members of many groups to support the use of BMPs. These practices combined with thoughtful local land use and zoning decisions will prevent additional pollution and protect water quality for generations to come.

These events are free and open to the public, with RSVPs requested. Questions about the project and RSVPs may be sent to the attention of Jacqueline Spry, PZC Visiting Academic Specialist, atjacqueline.spry@landpolicy.msu.edu or call 517.432.2222 ext. 123.

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