Upcoming Activities for LPI’s PZC Saginaw Bay Watershed Project

The Planning & Zoning Center at MSU, along with the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the East Michigan Council of Governments, continue the Saginaw Bay Watershed project.

Upcoming Activities for LPI’s PZC Saginaw Bay Watershed Project: Meetings/Workshops, Assessments and Development Guidebook Release

The Planning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU, along with the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and the East Michigan Council of Governments, continue the Saginaw Bay Watershed project. Unlike other projects that received funding under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), whose goal is the physical restoration of the Great Lakes and the rivers, streams and near shore areas that supply it; the Saginaw Bay Watershed Project’s goal is to prevent further environmental degradation of the Bay through more effective local master plans and zoning ordinances. This unique approach requires the Project Team to cultivate relationships with local governments and other local and regional stakeholders in the watershed, and to jointly develop long-term strategies for protecting water quality.

Earlier this spring, the project began building local capacity and engagement of the 106 local governments in the pilot communities of the Cass, Rifle and Pigeon/Pinnebog River sub-watersheds. Initial public meetings (April) and local government workshops (May) helped set the stage for the Project.

The public meetings summarized existing water quality problems in each 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; and how effective relationships with other groups can influence the success of protecting water quality.

The local government workshops were held for the purpose of educating stakeholders and local elected officials and planning commissioners on what they can do to protect water quality in their communities. The workshops focused on the development of water quality protection measures in local master plans and zoning ordinances.

The Project Team has developed a Watershed Protection Planning and Zoning Assessment Tool. The purpose of the tool is to identify water quality protection strategies presently being used by local governments within the Saginaw Bay Watershed, as well as determine the level of each community’s use of contemporary goals, regulations, standards and practices as they apply to protecting surface water quality. This pilot assessment will specifically analyze the master plans and zoning ordinances of communities located within the Cass, Rifle and Pigeon/Pinnebog River sub-watersheds.

In particular, the PZC Project Team is currently using the assessment tool to identify the presence of three fundamental aspects of watershed protection in local planning and zoning ordinances, including the existence of:

1)     Goals and objectives for water quality protection and improvement;

2)     Specific strategies and best management practices (BMPs) for meeting goals and objectives; and

3)     Opportunities and barriers to implement key land use strategies as they apply to watershed management.

Beginning this fall, upon the completion of the assessments, an analysis will be provided to each pilot community on their performance relating to protection of surface water quality.

Also this fall, PZC will be completing a guidebook on Low Impact Development, whose purpose is to provide local units of government with information about how land development and other activities on the land affect water quality. It will present an overview of the many opportunities for water quality protection available to local, state and federal government; individual property owners; and nonprofit organizations. The guidebook will offer information on best management practices that lower the impact of land use activities on Michigan’s water bodies, as well as provide sample language for community-based master plans and zoning ordinances to insure that future development and other land use activities occur with the lowest possible impact on water quality. The guidebook will also highlight links to other references and resources on protecting water quality through local actions.

Later this fall, PZC will conduct the second round of local government workshops (November) and public meetings (December). Be sure to check future editions of the “Land Policy News” for updates on these events. Following completion of the Watershed Protection Planning and Zoning Assessments and the second round of local government workshops, the communities in the project area will be given an opportunity to take advantage of free technical assistance provided by the PZC Project Team for implementing water quality best practices. For more information on the project, including updates on future events, visit Saginaw Bay Watershed Project.

The PZC Project is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and is working to help the sub-watershed communities identify actions that cities, villages and townships can take through local planning and zoning to improve and protect water quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, as well as address issues related to the Saginaw Bay Watershed Area of Concern. 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.

Did you find this article useful?


Michigan State University Michigan State University Close Menu button Menu and Search button Open Close