Dedicated to protecting the unique characteristics and natural resources of the White River Watershed.
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       Winter is finally settling across the White River Watershed.  As the days grow longer in their inevitable flow towards spring, we hope you're able to spend some time hunkered down in front of a crackling fire, out on the ice or otherwise enjoying the beauty of Michigan's winter wonderland.  This promises to be a busy year for the Partnership and, as always, we'll keep you posted about the health of the Watershed and how you can help protect it.
                                      Looking Back on 2016

  The December Board of Directors' meeting found us reflecting on our 2016 achievements and how they align with our mission.  We continue to reach out to the broader community by attending conferences, maintaining a presence on the web and Facebook, communicating through mainstream news articles and our newsletter, and spreading the word about the watershed at events such as Earth Fair Expo and the Steelheaders' Perch Festival.
     Education is another component of our commitment to protect the watershed.  We never turn down an opportunity to teach others the whys and wherefores of stream monitoring, and this year was no different.  Our hands-on, all-volunteer board members trained volunteers willing to get wet for the twice-yearly macroinvertebrate sampling and stream morphology surveys.  Others learned the ins and outs of road-stream crossing assessments, and our technical coordinator provided training and guidance to leaders at Owasippe Scout Reservation, in Twin Lake.  The board also approved tuition reimbursement for a student intern from Muskegon Community College who worked diligently on some of our summer projects.
     Stream monitoring, the nitty-gritty part of protecting the watershed, was held at a dozen sites along the White River and a study of stream morphology was conducted on the north branch of the White at 176th Ave.  Additionally, 50 road-stream crossings were assessed throughout Oceana and Newago Counties in 2016.

Tom Tisue (left) and MCC independent study intern Matthew Pacquin,
performed a number of assessments together as part of summer MiCorps
projects. WRWP's board provided tuition reimbursement for Pacquin, who hopes
to transfer this fall to MSU's environmental engineering program.
                               The Fight for Michigan's Groundwater

     Nestlé Waters North America hopes to win approval from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to increase groundwater withdrawals from 150- to 400-gallons-per-minute at its White Pine Springs well No. 101, in Osceola County.

     The DEQ came under fire for failing to provide adequate public notice of Nestle's request to increase withdrawals.   Environmental groups and the public at large claim they were unaware of Nestle's application until just a few days before the initial public comment period expired November 3.  Once word of the request became public, the agency was overwhelmed with comments, leading to its decision to extend the public comment period first to December 3, and then until March 3, 2017.   That's good news for folks hoping to express their concern over increased withdrawals by Nestle'.

     The Swiss corporate giant operates wells in Mecosta and Osceola Counties. Between 2005 and 2015, Nestle reportedly withdrew 3.4 billion gallons of groundwater to sell across the country.  Michigan charges bottlers just $200 annually in paperwork fees for the right to access the state's vast groundwater system. There is no state tax, license fee or royalty associated with the extraction of the water.

     The DEQ will accept public comments on Nestle's proposed application through March 3, 2017. All public comments must be submitted in writing, either by email:
or by postal mail to:
                     DEQ, ODWMA                        
Environmental Health Section
PO Box 30241
Lansing, MI  48909

The White's Number Is Up
(and that's a good thing!)

Every five years, the White River has the opportunity for inclusion in surface water studies conducted by the DEQ's Water Resources Division. White River's number is up this year, compelling our technical coordinator, Dr. Thomas Tisue, to request targeted monitoring along three sites within the watershed.  Each project, if approved, could pave the way for further environmental improvements to the watershed, as well as 'trickle-down' economic benefits for communities along the river.  Not in any particular order of importance, the projects include:
  • The installation of temperature-recording sensors at several locations along the length of Osborne Creek / Cobmoosa Creek, with readings taken beginning in early summer and continuing through early autumn.  That information could confirm whether the reconstruction of nearby road/stream crossings have resulted in substantial improvement to the thermal properties of the creek.  If Dr. Tisue's hypothesis holds true, the study should find the newly restored, extensive cold-water habitat has enticed trout and salmon to spend some time there reproducing.  That information, in turn, could determine whether the creek can support increased stocking of salmon, steel head, brook and brown trout.      
  • Up and downstream sampling of the White River will help determine how much of White Lake's nutrient load may be coming from former agricultural fields, including the celery flats.  The upstream samples will come from the White River at the end of Weesies Road; downstream samples will be drawn at the fishing bridge along the Whitehall-Montague causeway.  Understanding the source of the nutrients will be important when making decisions about remediation efforts to reverse the lake's eutrophication.  White Lake Association and Muskegon Community College, which joined the Partnership in petitioning the DNR to monitor the lake's nutrient load, will also collaborate to monitor those sites on behalf of the DEQ.
  • The dam along the White River in Hesperia has outlived its purpose and usefulness.  There is clear evidence the structure and its shallow, silty impoundment are wreaking havoc on downstream temperatures, stressing the river's ecosystems.  Moreover, the cement barricade blocks migratory fish that inhabit and reproduce in the lower river system.   The Partnership has asked the DEQ to perform a thorough comparison of the health and quantity of benthic macroinvertebrate communities both above and below the dam.  This information would lend further support for dam removal.  Additionally, understanding the characteristics of sediment texture and chemistry would help identify issues affecting how draw-down and dam removal would need to be approached.
There you have it; part of our 2017-18 wish list.  We'll know by June 1 whether any of the proposals have been accepted.  Then we'll let you know how you can help.
                         Meaningful Watershed Management:                                                   The Search for a Sustainable Funding Source

     Volunteers and staffers who work on behalf of any of Michigan's 63 major watersheds or 267 sub-watersheds have plenty of directives and ideas for protecting and improving the quality and quantity of water within them.  What they don't have is a reliable, sustainable funding source with which to implement those improvements.  Watershed management groups such as WRWP rely almost exclusively on government grants to support our activities.  This lack of consistent and adequate funding impedes the work of every watershed group in the state.
     Information from Public Sector Consultants estimates the financial cost to adequately fund watershed management activities across West Michigan alone is pegged at $13.6 million. Late last spring, the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance launched a study across the 13-county West Michigan area to consider what a sustainable source of funding might look like. The Alliance partnered with the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council to spearhead the study, and the West Michigan Watershed Collaborative, which includes WRWP, is providing input throughout the course of the project. 
     The project team and steering committee members will continue to flesh out the details of how to secure reliable funding, but there will be no easy solutions.  As always, we'll keep you posted on our progress.

     If you support our mission to protect the White River Watershed, please consider
becoming a member or contributing to our Endowment Fund.
     To become a member, click on the link below.

                      We Rely On Donations From People Like You

       Our work on behalf of the White River Watershed is made possible in large part by donations from people such as you; those who recognize the importance of protecting our local ecology and safeguarding the health of the watershed for human and aquatic life for generations to come. 
     The Partnership depends on donations to conduct spring and autumn stream monitoring, assessment of Road Stream Crossings, and educate the public about the impact of the changing climate on the Watershed. 
      WRWP has no paid staff, relying entirely on volunteer efforts of those committed to maintaining the health of the watershed.  Please consider making a contribution. Think of it as a gift to your offspring, a chance to pay it forward.  All donations are fully tax-deductible. Log in to access a secure website for either PayPal or credit card donations.   
     Your donation to the White River Watershed Partnership Endowment Fund, at either Fremont Area Community Foundation or Community Foundation of Muskegon County, helps our all-volunteer organization fund spring and fall macroinvertebrate sampling and educational programs.  Your tax deductible gift can be mailed to:
                         FACF                                           CFM
                         4424 W. 48th St.                         4258 W. Western Ave.                         
                         P.O. Box B                                  Suite 200
                         Fremont, MI  49412                   Muskegon , MI  49440
  The WRWP Board of Directors invites you to attend our monthly meetings
every fourth Thursday at 6 p.m. in the lower level of the
Natural Resources Conservation Service, 940 W. Rex St., in Fremont.
Ted Stojak
231-893-8945 (h)
231-557-5764 (m)

Vice-Chair and Grants
Lisa Dutcher  
231-861-5579 (h)
231-720-4578 (m)

Treasurer and Middle Watershed
Raymond Schinler

Anne Pawli 
231-893-3418 (h)
231-736-5495 (m)

Technical Coordinator
Thomas Tisue
231-421-4408 (h)
630-670-2237 (m)
Events Coordinator
Tom Thompson

Trustee (Middle Watershed)
Jim Cordray

Trustee (Lower Watershed)
Terry Clark

Trustee (Upper Watershed)
Bill Bowen

Trustee - open

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Our mailing address is:
White River Watershed Partnership
PO Box 416
Hesperia, MI 49421

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White River Watershed Partnership · PO Box 416 · Hesperia, MI 49421 · USA

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