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White Lake

Contact Us

U.S. EPA RAP Liaison:
John Perrecone
(perrecone.john@epa.gov)
312-353-1149

Key Documents

Several beneficial use impairments in the White Lake Area of Concern have been restored in the past few years. Most recently, the restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption were lifted in February 2013. The degradation of benthos, eutrophication or undesirable algae, and restrictions on drinking water, taste or odor impairments were removed in 2012. The first beneficial use impairment, restrictions on dredging activities, was removed in September 2011. Because of these successes, White Lake is on track to become an Area of Recovery in October 2013.

The City of Whitehall's Lake Street Reconstruction project will use best watershed management practices to improve storm water quality in the AOC. The "green street" project will use bioswales, naturalized detention, filter strips and treatment wetlands to improve stormwater quality before it enters White Lake. The project is partially funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

White Lake River AoC Boundary Map

White Lake AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 699K)

White Lake shape file (ZIP) (128K)

On this page:

About White Lake

White Lake is a 2,570 acre coastal, drowned river mouth lake located in Muskegon County along the east shore of Lake Michigan, in the vicinity of the communities of Montague and Whitehall. The Area of Concern includes White Lake and the White River watershed. Most of the land around the lake is wooded or grassy, with sand dunes located along Lake Michigan. Land use in the watershed is primarily recreational and agricultural, with the uses around White Lake being residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural.

The Occidental (Hooker) Chemical Company property was the primary source of contamination. Discharges from the site resulted in White Lake becoming polluted with chloroform, tetrachloride, and various volatile organic and chemical compounds. High levels of PCBs and chromium were also found. Agricultural runoff contributed to up to 97% of the phosphorus pollution in White Lake.

Eight out of a possible 14 beneficial use impairments were identified in the White Lake Area of Concern. To address the BUIs, priorities have been defined to include contaminated sediment remediation, eutrophication control, remediation of groundwater and former industrial site contamination, and wildlife habitat and population restoration.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

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Efforts towards restoration

White Lake was originally listed as an AOC because of venting of a groundwater plume contaminated with an organic solvent from the Occidental Chemical Company site, which is reflected in the 1987 remedial action plan document. Analysis of recent well monitoring data indicates that the plume of contaminated groundwater moving from the site is being intercepted by the lake-front purgewell network and effectively treated prior to discharge to White Lake. Remedial action plans are prepared by MDEQ with assistance from the White Lake public advisory council. The PAC has played a significant role in implanting the RAP and developing delisting targets. The council is part of the Muskegon Conservation District.

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Documents

You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

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Photos

riverbank erosion

White River erosion site immediately upstream of the inlet to White Lake contributing 248 tons of sediment to the system each year. In 2004, the PAC and Muskegon Conservation District restored the site and eliminated all erosion at the site with a grant through Great Lakes Basing Program.

The southern shoreline of White Lake is heavy populated but due to the topography, extensive lake shelf, and prevailing winds, large sections of natural shoreline remain. Some of these areas are providing the only remaining wetland and waterfowl habitat in the area.

The southern shoreline of White Lake is heavy populated, but due to the topography, extensive lake shelf and prevailing winds, large sections of natural shoreline remain. Some of these areas are providing the only remaining wetland and waterfowl habitat in the area.

dredging platform in the water

Navigational dredging in the eastern basin of White Lake and area regulated by Army Corps for sediment disposal to a Type II landfill.

Dredging barge

Dredging barge prepping for activities at the Occidental Clean-up site. In 2003, 10,500 cubic yards of contaminated sediment were removed from White Lake at the outfall, eliminating the last known "hot spot" in the system.

Wetland at the White River outlet to White Lake.

Wetland complex at the White River outlet to White Lake. Represents largest wetland system in immediate area but is separated from White Lake due to road construction and urban development.

Shoreline of East Bay at the White Lake Tannery Site.

Shoreline of East Bay at the White Lake Tannery Site. In 2003 sediment remediation occurred at the adjacent Tannery Bay where a majority of the contaminants were located and 83,000 cubic yards were removed.


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