U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
Mark Loomis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
US EPA Region 5 (G-17J)
77 W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
State AOC Coordinator
Stephanie Swart (email@example.com)
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - Office of the Great Lakes
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30473
Lansing, MI 48912
Deer Lake Public Advisory Council
Deer Lake SPAC Representative
490 Deer Lake Road
Ishpeming, MI 49849
State Public Advisory Council Representative
49 Chilman Lane
Ishpeming, MI 49849
- AOC Area of Concern
- BUI Beneficial Use Impairment
- CMP/EIS Chemical Management Plan or Environmental Impact Statement
- GLNPO Great Lakes National Program Office
- RAP Remedial Action Plan
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Criteria and Restoration Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
- Partners and Stakeholders
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Deer Lake is a 1,000-acre impoundment in central Marquette County near Ishpeming, Michigan. The Area of Concern (AOC) boundary is considered to be Carp Creek from the discharge point of the old Ishpeming Township A Wastewater Treatment Plant flowing downstream to the south basin of Deer Lake.
The AOC boundary includes Carp Creek from the old Ishpeming Township Wastewater Treatment Plant (at the end of Southwood Drive) downstream to Deer Lake and the Carp River from the dam at the north basin of Deer Lake to Lake Superior near the City of Marquette”, similar to the Stage 2 RAP.
The AOC also includes Deer Lake, and the Carp River flowing downstream through the dam from the north basin of Deer Lake about twenty miles to Lake Superior near Marquette. International Joint Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality guidance materials describe that AOCs should be considered on a watershed basis. In most AOCs the watershed is considered a potential source area to that AOC. Contaminant sources to Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) that are identified within the watershed, even if not located within the defined AOC boundaries, would be given every consideration for remedial actions, when meeting all federal and state guidance.
In 1981 fish in Deer Lake were discovered to have concentrations of mercury that exceeded the 1.5 mg/kg "ban on total consumption" by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). Mercury concentrations in Deer Lake fish also exceeded the mercury levels found in fish from similar lakes at that time.
There were two known industrial sources of mercury to the Deer Lake AOC. The first industrial use of mercury occurred in the 1880s in the northwestern portion of the Deer Lake AOC watershed by the Ropes Gold and Silver Company. Liquid (elemental) mercury was used to recover gold from ore between 1882 and 1897 at a location west of the north basin of Deer Lake.
The second industrial use of mercury occurred in the Carp Creek watershed. Mercury salts were used in iron ore assays in laboratories of The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company (CCIC). Mercury-containing wastewater from the CCIC laboratories was discharged to the City of Ishpeming wastewater treatment system between 1929 and 1981. During that time the City wastewater treatment plant discharged primary-treated municipal wastewater into Carp Creek which then flows into the south basin of Deer Lake.
From 1929 to 1963 all wastewater generated in the City of Ishpeming and Ishpeming Township discharged without treatment through combined sanitary and storm sewers into Carp Creek. From 1964 to 1985 three Primary Treatment Plants treated municipal wastewater before it was discharged into Carp Creek. In 1970 these primary treatment systems were determined to be inadequate by the State Water Resources Commission. The combined sewers were separated into sanitary sewers and storm sewers by 1985. An Enhanced Secondary Wastewater Treatment Plant replaced the three Primary treatment plants in April 1986. The new wastewater treatment system significantly decreased nutrient loading into Deer Lake; for example, phosphorus loading decreased by 86%.
Beneficial Use Impairments
Three beneficial use impairments (BUIs) have been identified for the Deer Lake AOC. These include:
- Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption
- Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems
- Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae
The Deer Lake AOC has a fish consumption advisory - see Michigan Dept. of Community Health's Eat Safe Fish . The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a posession ban for all fish from Deer Lake.
Bald eagles maintained a nest at Deer Lake between 1963 and 1980, but did not successfully rear young during that time. Eagles have been successfully reproducing at Deer Lake since 1997.
US EPA characterized Deer Lake as eutrophic (nutrient-rich) during a national lake survey in 1972. A 1974-75 study by Northern Michigan University concluded that Deer Lake was hypereutrophic (excessively nutrient-rich). Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations have been used to assess and monitor the trophic (nutrient) status of the AOC.
Delisting Criteria/Restoration Targets
The Deer Lake AOC Public Advisory Council (PAC) has requested that the State of Michigan and EPA begin the delisting process for the AOC. An AOC Technical Committee was developed comprised of staff from state and federal agencies and the PAC's technical committee.
The technical committee determined to use delisting criteria based on the 2008 Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern document. The AOC Technical Committee is initiating the development of a Delisting Determination Document based on the State of Michigan delisting guidance. This document will determine the status of the BUIs.
The Technical Committee will develop a timeline to set goals and track progress. The timeline will use elements from the PAC's delisting checklist.
Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern (PDF) (66pp, 754K) October 2008
RAP Development and Status
MDEQ published a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for Deer Lake Area of Concern (PDF) (168pp, 5.2MB) in 1987.
Significant RAP Milestones
As described in the original 1987 RAP, several restoration milestones were achieved prior to the AOC listing process. In addition, many more milestones have been achieved since the RAP was published. A table provides a chronological list of the RAP implementation milestones (PDF) (3pp, 83K) for each BUI.
Recent progress and achievements
- September 2011: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, in agreement with the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Deer Lake PAC, removed the beneficial use impairments for (1) Eutrophication or Undesireable Algae and (2) Bird or Animal Deformities of Reproductive Problems.
- 2006: The AOC Technical Committee was developed with representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Deer Lake PAC, and U.S. EPA to investigate BUI status and potential for delisting individual BUIs or the entire AOC.
- 2005: The Deer Lake PAC requested that the State of Michigan and U.S. EPA begin the AOC delisting process for the AOC based on the 2006 MDEQ Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
- 2003: Valve operation in the Deer Lake dam was resumed to minimize methylation of mercury within the reservoir. The PAC water quality monitoring program provided data that were used to monitor hypolimnion water withdrawals evaluate the valve settings and monitor lake conditions relative to mercury methylation.
- 2002: The Deer Lake PAC drafted a Remedial Action Plan Update. The PAC developed a delisting goal for the fish consumption BUI, recommended remedies to decrease fish mercury concentrations, and began monitoring Deer Lake water quality on a weekly basis.
- 2001: A study by Michigan State University concluded that there is evidence of natural attenuation of sediments in Deer Lake, although natural attenuation is presently arrested. If natural attenuation again starts, and if the rates are similar to historical patterns, 21 to 24 years are estimated for recovery (based on accumulation of six inches of clean sediment). The report indicated that some natural attenuation had occurred in both basins of Deer Lake, with slightly faster recovery in the south basin.
- 2000: MDEQ determined that small fish in Deer Lake have mercury concentrations that are equal to comparable fish from reference (Day 2000) lakes, but the mercury content of large fish in Deer Lake remained elevated.
- 1998-2005: Bald eagles are reproducing successfully at Deer Lake.
- 1997: Deer Lake PAC was formed.
- 1996: The fish consumption advisory for brook trout in Carp Creek and Carp River was relaxed.
- 1994: Mercury content of "standard" (24-inch) northern pike decreased below 1.5 mg/kg, which is the MDCH trigger for "no consumption."
- 1993: Mercury content in brook trout collected from the Carp River is well below 0.5 mg/kg, which is the MDCH trigger for restricting consumption.
- 1989: MDEQ monitoring determined that the dissolved oxygen content of Deer Lake during the winter had improved, only three years after the improvements in wastewater treatment were implemented.
- 1987: MDEQ published the RAP for Deer Lake AOC (PDF) (168K, 5.2MB) October 1987
Current projects and outlook
The Technical Committee is initiating the development of a Delisting Determination Document which will be based on the Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern (PDF) (61pp, 508K) . This document will evaluate the status of the BUIs in the AOC. The Technical Committee is currently developing a timeline for the document's development.
- 1999: Updated AOC brochure produced.
- 1987: Remedial Action Plan for Deer Lake Area of Concern completed.
A Public Advisory Council (PAC) was formed for the Deer Lake AOC in 1997. The formation of the PAC was a very positive step, with strong community support from a large stakeholder base. The PAC has 21 voting members, plus three non-voting state agency representatives who serve in an advisory capacity. PAC membership represents a broad cross-section of interests, including:
- City of Ishpeming
- Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company
- Environmental Organizations
- Fishing (2 members)
- Human Health Resources
- Lakeshore Residents (4 members)
- Local Businesses (2 members)
- Marquette County
- Board of Commissioners
- Drain Commissioner
- Road Commission
- Native Americans
- Township of Ishpeming
- Wastewater Treatment
- Watershed residents at large
Additional outreach projects
- Yearly water quality monitoring provided by the PAC.
- Local community and PAC members continue monitoring Carp Creek to control beaver populations to maintain the coldwater fisheries by removal of beaver dams. PAC supplied waders to support these efforts.
- Ongoing volunteer streambank, lakeshore, public access site, and island cleanup projects.
- Water quality signage related to fish consumption advisories maintained by PAC.
- Fish spawning bed established by PAC pass-through grant.