U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
Mark Loomis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
U.S. EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604
State RAP Contact
Stephanie Swart (email@example.com)
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Muskegon Lake PAC Chair
Cynthia Price (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership
Kathy Evans (email@example.com)
Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership / PAC and SPAC Representative
c/o West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission
Local & Regional
- Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University
- Lake Michigan Forum
- Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
- Muskegon Conservation District
- Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership
- Muskegon River Watershed Assembly
- Muskegon Save Our Shoreline
- Statewide Public Advisory Council for Michigan's Areas of Concern Program
- Timberland Resource Conservation and Development Council
- 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
May 2012 Announcement
Contaminated Sediment Removed From Division Street Outfall (PDF) (2pp, 381K) May 2012 Fact sheet
The Muskegon Lake Area of Concern is one step closer to being taken off the list of the most polluted places around the Great Lakes. Work wrapped up earlier in 2012 on a project to remove contaminated sediment from a Muskegon Lake bay known as the Division Street Outfall.
US EPA worked with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership, the city of Muskegon and Hartshorn Marina, which is adjacent to the site.
The estimated $12 million Great Lakes Legacy Act project removed about 43,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Legacy Act funds covered 65 percent of the cost, or about $7.8 million. MDEQ provided the required nonfederal 35 percent share, about $4.2 million.
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
Muskegon Lake is a 4,149 acre inland coastal lake located in Muskegon County, Michigan along the east shoreline of Lake Michigan. The Area of Concern (AOC) includes the entire lake with the lake being separated from Lake Michigan by sand dunes. The Muskegon River flows through the lake before emptying into Lake Michigan. Additional tributaries include Mosquito Creek, Ryerson Creek, Ruddiman Creek, Green Creek, and Four Mile Creek. The immediate inland area is primarily residential and industrial, with chemical and petrochemical companies, foundries, a pulp and paper mill, and other industries located on the lake or within its immediate watershed.
The Muskegon Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service assist the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnernship (MLWP) (formerly the Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council) by providing project staff as well as educational and technical support to coordinate and implement the RAP for the Muskegon Lake AOC.
Muskegon Lake priorities include
- remediation of contaminated sediments in the lake and tributaries
- prevention of eutrophication
- nonpoint source pollution control
- brownfield and waterfront restoration
- habitat restoration
Why was this area listed as an AOC?
In 1985 Muskegon Lake was designated an AOC because of water quality and habitat problems associated with the historical discharge of pollutants into the AOC, and the potential adverse effect the pollutants could have on Lake Michigan.
The high levels of nutrients, solids, and toxics entering the lake had caused a series of problems including nuisance algal blooms, reduced oxygen in the lake's deeper water, tainted taste of fish due to petroleum products in the water, and contaminated sediments.
The pollutant discharges also were suspected of contributing to the degradation of benthos (bottom-dwelling organisms, also referred to as the benrhic community), the contamination of fish, and the reduction in fish and wildlife habitat. In addition, the development of chemical, petrochemical, and heavy industries was causing localized groundwater contamination that was moving toward the lake and its tributaries.
Beneficial Use Impairments
Through the Remedial Action Planning (RAP) process the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnernship (MLWP) (formerly the Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) RAP Team have identified several priority beneficial uses as being impaired.
- Beach closings
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae
- Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Degradation of benthos
- Restrictions on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption
Consumption advisories in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern have been imposed due to PCB and mercury contamination.Michigan Department of Community Health: Fish advisories Consult the Michigan Fish Advisory guide for restrictions and advisories. Be sure to check for general inland lake mercury advisories. Fish advisories change year to year.
Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations
According to Michigan standards, Muskegon Lake is a fine fishery. Muskegon Lake has also been described as the most popular and valuable fishery in western Michigan. It supports excellent populations of northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, suckers, sunfish, crappie, and bullheads. However, many of the highly productive bays have been dredged or filled for marinas or other development.
One goal of the AOC is to provide for suitable habitat to support restoration of warmwater fishery. There is a need to protect against additional development along the North Shore where many of the bays and inlets are located. Additionally, severe habitat degradation is evident in Little Bear Creek and its unnamed tributary.
Degradation of Benthos
Benthic communities found near localized sediment contamination are dominated by pollutant-tolerant species. However, the degradation of benthic populations have yet to be defined.
Restrictions on Dredging Activities
Every two years or so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges the channel connecting Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. The cost of analyzing dredge spoils is very high.
Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat
During winter and summer stratification, oxygen levels in deep water remain depleted, making these areas uninhabitable for some fish or fish food species. The shoreline continues to be altered by dredging and by installation of seawalls, bulkheads, and riprap. The Muskegon Lake Area of Concern has received funding for some habitat work toward remediation.
The Muskegon Lake PAC is the local organization with the responsibility to initiate the BUI delisting process. The PAC will work with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Joint Commission throughout the process to determine whether or not a BUI is restored and if it should be delisted from the AOC.
The Muskegon Lake PAC intends that identified targets and indicators be updated annually, and that they will be used to document a "body of evidence" that a BUI is being restored.
In some cases, all targets listed for a BUI may be met before delisting is initiated. In other cases, a majority of the targets may be met, and the PAC could decide that it is either not possible to attain certain targets or that they are no longer necessary to restore the BUI.
RAP Development and Status
Significant RAP Milestones
2011 Muskegon Lake Stage 2 RAP
2002 Muskegon Lake Community Action Plan (RAP update)
2002 Muskegon Lake RAP part 1 of 2 (PDF) (26pp, 6.4MB)
2002 Muskegon Lake RAP part 2 of 2 (PDF) (26pp, 4.9MB)
This update to the Muskegon Lake RAP established a restoration vision and a set of community-based qualitative restoration targets for restoration efforts. Over the winter of 2003-2004, the PAC developed a project to involve stakeholders in the development of numerical restoration targets for fish and wildlife, water quality and related natural resource issues.
1994 Muskegon Lake RAP Update
1994 Muskegon Lake RAP Update (PDF) (99pp, 4.7MB)
This document achieved five objectives:
- Ensuring participation in the process by a public advisory council as well as a team of specialists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources;
- Documenting water quality data collected and analyzed since the plan was published in 1987;
- Analyzing the current status of AOC use impairments;
- Making recommendations that if carried out will lay the foundation for the next phase of the process, implementing specific measures to remediate the water quality problems of the AOC;
- Identification of data and information gaps.
1993 Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) Established
The Muskegon Lake PAC is a coalition of community interests dedicated to working cooperatively for the improvement of the Muskegon Lake ecosystem through the RAP process. The Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council is now known as the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnernship (MLWP).
1987 Muskegon Lake RAP
1987 Muskegon Lake RAP (PDF) (261pp, 7.3MB)
This Status Report is an update of progress made by the State of Michigan to address the problems in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC) identified by the International Joint Commission as one of Michigan's fourteen Areas of Concern.
Recent progress and achievements
- On April 25, 2005, the Muskegon Lake draft targets for restoration and delisting were presented at two public meetings. The PAC has been working with Grand Valley State University to establish the targets and reach consensus before presenting them to the larger watershed community. The PAC’s next steps are to gather broad public input on the draft targets and to have the targets peer reviewed before presenting them to DEQ.
- Twenty-seven volunteers attended a training for the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring program on April 2, 2005 along Four Mile Creek in the Muskegon Lake watershed. Volunteers signed up to monitor marsh birds, frogs and toads to help determine the effectiveness of cleanup and rehabilitation efforts within the Muskegon Lake and White Lake AOCs.
Current projects and outlook
- Ruddiman Creek contaminated sediment cleanup project is close to being underway. The creek is a contaminated tributary on the southwest corner of Muskegon Lake.
- The Muskegon Lake PAC is working with the Ruddiman Creek Task Force to compile comments for DEQ and U.S. EPA on the final Ruddiman Creek workplan. The plan calls for removal of 70,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Ruddiman Creek. Coordination meetings are being held locally with DEQ, U.S. EPA, project contractors, the PAC, City of Muskegon and other local agencies.
- Plans are also underway to assess contaminated sediment in Ryerson Creek and in Muskegon Lake at the Division Street Outfall. Ruddiman, Ryerson and the Division Street Outfall are priority contaminated sediment areas within the Muskegon Lake AOC.
Sediment Survey of Three Tributaries of Muskegon Lake (PDF) (44pp, 271K) 2004
The Muskegon Conservation District maintains a a public repository of AOC-related documents for the Muskegon Lake and White Lake AOCs.
Muskegon Conservation District
1001 East Wesley
Muskegon, MI 49442
The repository includes these documents:
- Muskegon and White Lake Aquatic Assessment, 1995
- Muskegon Lake and White Lake Water Quality and Sediment Study (tributaries and storm outfalls), 1995
- Muskegon Lake Wildlife Habitat Assessment, 1995/1996
- Muskegon Lake Sediment, U.S. EPA/MDNR, 1994
- Muskegon River Fisheries Assessment, 1994
- Maps on Habitat, Soils, Land Use and Forest Population
- LakeWatch and Adopt-A-Stream volunteer data
The Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership (formerly Muskegon Lake Public Advisory Council) is a community-based, volunteer partnership organization that works to restore Muskegon Lake through the RAP process.