The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) has released their results on the health of the Huron River in their River Roundup October 2017 report.
This past October 145 volunteers spent a rain-soaked day putting in 580 hours to collect 61 samples from 42 different creek and river locations across the Huron River Watershed.
The purpose of the annual survey is to assess the aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community (bugs and creepy crawlies in the mud) which is the most effective way that HRWC has to understand how the water quality of the river and creeks may be changing.
The report explains,
“Benthic macroinvertebrates” are another word for stream insects, crustaceans, worms, and mollusks. The word “benthic” refers to the bottom of a lake or stream, the word “macro” means they are large enough to see with the naked eye, and “invertebrates” are creatures without backbones.
To determine the overall condition rating, HRWC uses an integrative model that compares a monitoring site to all of HRWC’s other monitoring sites in the Huron watershed. This involves insect data, habitat data, water temperature, land cover, and stream size. Streams are ranked as excellent, good, fair, and poor and ordered best to worst.
The overall health of the watershed is holding steady. There are areas improving and areas in decline. Twenty-eight of the sixty-one sites had no change.
In the Dexter area, samples taken of the Huron River at Zeeb Rd. and Huron Creek at Dexter-Pinckney Rd. showed excellent health for those locations.
Samples from Portage Creek at Dexter Townhall Rd., Boyden Creek in Delhi, Mill Creek at Shield Rd., Mill Creek at Mill Creek Park and Woods Creek at Lower Huron Metropark were rated good.
Mill Creek at Fletcher Rd., Mill Creek at Parker Rd. and Arms Creek at Walsh Rd. received a fair rating.
Seventeen sites are declining in overall health including locations on Norton Creek, Traver Creek, Davis Creek, and Honey Creek (Washtenaw Co). Nine of the declining sites are in Livingston County, 4 are in Washtenaw, 2 are in Oakland, and 2 are in Wayne.
Thirteen sites are significantly improving. Ten of the improving sites are in Washtenaw County, including locations on Mill Creek, Malletts Creek, Fleming Creek, and the Huron River in Ypsilanti. Two sites are improving in Livingston County (Mann Creek at Van Amberg Road and Portage Creek at Unadilla Road), and 1 site is improving in Wayne County (Woods Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark).
The survey had more good news for Dexter residents,
“The team at the Huron River: Zeeb Road collected the best sample ever taken at this site, which is saying something considering this was already the most biologically diverse location in the watershed. Twenty one insect families were found here, including 11 families from the mayfly-stonefly-caddisfly group that generally require clean water and high oxygen levels, and 5 sensitive families that are even more likely to be wiped out by the presence of pollution.”
Due to weather conditions, heavy rain making water fun fast and deep, not all sites could be sampled this season and so maintain their rating from last year.
You can read the detailed survey results here.