Share This:

Planning Department
WATER QUALITY

SCIT Water Quality Program



What about the water?

About the Monitoring Program

The SCIT Water Program monitors and assesses the health of Tribal waters including rivers, streams and lakes. Monitoring surface waters is essential to understanding any potential risks to public health as well as protecting the waters from environmental degradation. The Monitoring Team samples every summer and uses a rotational basin approach. Each year the team monitors a number of fixed stations (which remain the same each year) and a number of rotating stations (which change each year) to give us a comprehensive outlook on the health of the watershed. The fixed stations are located on the Chippewa River and a couple of its tributaries. The rotating stations have a focus each year. These include, the Coldwater River, the North Branch of the Chippewa River, the Main Branch of the Chippewa River and the North and South Branch of the Salt River.

The SCIT Water Program receives funding from the Environmental Protection Agency under Clean Water Act Section 106 to monitor Tribal waters. The rivers of focus in Isabella County are the Chippewa River, the North Branch of the Chippewa River, the Coldwater River and the North and South Branch of the Salt River. In Arenac County the Water Program monitors the Saganing River which empties out in the Saginaw Bay.

The Chippewa River

The Chippewa River is scenic, beautiful, and enjoyed by many residents, student and visitors. During the summer you often see fishermen, kayakers, canoers, tubers, and swimmers in the river. In Isabella County, the Chippewa River is fairly clean above the confluence of the North Branch of the Chippewa River, where the two rivers meet. After the confluence of the North Branch the Main Branch takes on sediment, pathogens, and nutrients. This is because the North Branch is contaminated and consistently exceeds State of Michigan Water Quality Standards.

One issue that proves to be particularly problematic is the consistently high E.coli concentrations. E.coli is bacteria that lives in the gut of humans and animals and is an indicator of fecal contamination. Fecal contamination contains harmful pathogens that can cause illness and disease in humans. There are times when the E.coli concentrations in the Chippewa River exceed the State of Michigan threshold for E.coli, posing a public health concern. The exceedances typically occur downstream (east) of the confluence with the North Branch of the Chippewa River. Currently the State of Michigan and local government agencies are working towards addressing the E.coli issue in the Chippewa River with the support of the SCIT. You can find the weekly E.coli levels in the Chippewa River located in the news feed on this page or on the SCIT Facebook page. E.coli levels are sampled weekly every year from May to October.

Other Tribal Waters

The following is a table that shows which water bodies are meeting Tribal goals and designations. Currently none of the water bodies are meeting Tribal goals and designations. The Water Program is continuously working to improve water quality to meet these designated uses.

2015 Sampling Season Water Body Tribal Goals and Designations
Tribal Goal or Designated Use Chippewa River North Branch Chippewa River Coldwater River Onion Creek
Aquatic Life Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support
Human Health Not Full Support
Recreation Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support
Wild Rice (Potential) Not Full Support Not Full Support
*Sourced from 2015 SCIT Water Quality Assessment Report

Projects
Ongoing:
  • 2017 ‐ Section 319, Clean Water Act, US Environmental Protection Agency
    • Denver Township streambank restoration project
      • Repairing Streambanks, planting of native plants, trees, and shrubs, to replace the devastating impact of emerald ash borer in the floodplain along a tributary to the Salt River.
  • US Department of Agriculture/US Forest Service and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
    • Removal and restoration of forests impacted by the invasive species, emerald ash borer
      • In collaboration with City and County Parks
    • Emerald Ash Borer Project
      Emerald Ash Borer Project
      Emerald Ash Borer Project
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Tribal Initiative, US Environmental Protection Agency
    • Deerfield Township streambank restoration project
    • Deerfield
      Deerfield
      Deerfield
  • Saganing Community Center stream bank restoration
  • Isabella County agriculture work
  • Canine Study/DNA Study
Current: Upcoming: TBA