Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS)

Planning Department
SCIT Water Quality Program


The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s Water Quality Program monitors and assesses the health of Tribal waters including rivers, streams and lakes. Monitoring surface water is essential to understanding any potential risks to public health as well as protecting the waters from environmental degradation. The Nonpoint Source Pollution Program concentrates on restoration projects, specifically with rural landowners in the agricultural field. This will be accomplished by implementing Best Management Practices to address agricultural pollution inputs in the watershed while also working to identify runoff issues related to agricultural practices within reservation boundaries by conducting e. Coli source tracking of sites of specific concern.

Nonpoint Source Pollution

NPS Pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it accumulates natural and human-made pollutants eventually depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and ground waters. Nonpoint source pollution can include: excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from rural areas or agricultural lands; oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production; sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks; salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines; bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems; and atmospheric deposition and hydromodification, or the alteration of the natural flow of water through a landscape.

What Are Restoration Projects

Restoration projects are a variety of Best Management Practices (BMPs) designed and implemented, often on field edges or stream banks, to have a positive effect on surface water quality. Common forms of restoration projects are buffer strips, retention ponds, and constructed wetlands.

Why Restoration Projects Are Useful

Restoration projects reduce the amount of runoff pollution from agricultural operations. Stormwater runoff from crop fields and feedlots/pastures can carry pollutants – such as E. coli, nutrients, and sediment – into nearby lakes, rivers, streams, and ditches. Restoration projects can help to capture and filter out pollutants before they enter surface water sources.

Where The Funding Comes From

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe has received funding for restoration projects on the Isabella Reservation through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI is a multi-agency collaboration whereby smaller agencies can receive federal funding to assist in improving surface water quality in the great lakes basin.

Who The Funding Is Targeted Towards

The funding that SCIT was allocated through the GLRI to conduct riparian restoration projects is targeted towards agricultural producers. Specifically, the funding targets agricultural producers who have feedlots or cropland that borders, or is nearby, lakes, rivers, streams, and ditches within the reservation boundaries.

How The Funding Is Allocated

Funding will be allocated based on the degree of waterway impairment, using the State of Michigan’s water quality standards as a reference. Landowners and agricultural producers adjacent to surface water that exceeds the State of Michigan’s standards for E. coli and nutrient pollution will be given priority for project funding.

How The Process Works

Funding is limited, and not every potential restoration project will be able to receive funding. SCIT will work with landowners and agricultural producers to determine which projects will have the most positive effect on surface water quality. From there, the exact type of BMP implemented will be determined and bids for the construction of the project will be solicited and received from contractors. Once the contractor is chosen, construction can begin.

What Can You Do?

  • Keep litter pet wastes, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains.
  • Apply lawn and garden chemicals sparingly and according to directions.
  • Dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints, and other household chemicals properly.
  • Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease, and antifreeze.
  • Do not hose them into the street.
  • Control soil erosion on your property by planting ground cover and stabilizing erosion-prone areas.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped, at a minimum every 3-5 years so that it operates properly.
  • Purchase household detergents and cleaners that are low in phosphorus to reduce the amount of nutrients discharged into our lakes, streams, and coastal waters.