Michigan Projects/Programs Addressing Regional Themes
  Animal Waste Management Water Policy and Economics
  Drinking Water and Human Health Watershed Management

Michigan Manure Resources Network
There are many benefits of adding manure to the soil. Many times, however, people do not know where to go to get it. The Michigan Manure Resources Network was, developed by MSU Extension, is intended to bring together those having manure with those needing manure.

Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) was created from a recommendation of the Michigan Agricultual Pollution Prevention Strategy. This Strategy set forth pollution prevention strategies for Michigan. The MAEAP development committee designed an industry led envronmental assurance program that partnered with government agencies and was based on a a voluntary, education based approach. Respresentatives of the agricultural industry, in conjunction with Michigan State University, established a working committee that would design and implement these goals.

Expansion of Livestock Participatory Extension/Research Program
The focus of this project has been revised and is now focusing on livestock facilities on the campus farms at Michigan State University. In this first year, 12 key locations on the south campus farms were identified as potential runoff sites. All were sampled for E. coli and nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen). Discharge points were mapped and potential drainage areas to receiving waters were identified. A committee was formed to develop a monitoring plan, write a proposal for additional funds from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, and initiate talks with extension agents as to the types of educational materials that would be most useful to farmers.

New Livestock Initiative to Protect Water Resources
Although efforts are increasing in the development of comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs), it remains a challenge to get livestock producers to adopt them as tools for better managing their manure resources. This project continues so that water resources are protected from these contaminated discharges. 

The Progressive Planning formula was adopted into the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) to assist livestock producers with manure management planning. MSUE’s role has been training partners (agency and commodity groups) on how to assist producers with progressive planning. The next need is to further promote the idea to farmers and to get more of them to agree to get involved. The target audience is small and medium sized livestock operations.

Evaluating Manure Use on Agricultural Lands
In Year 1, a research and demonstration site was established. Twelve circular flumes with water quality sampling ports were inserted in tile lines in a seven-acre field.  Water bacteria levels in the tiles and in an adjacent stream/drainage ditch are being monitored. Manure will be applied later in the season using aeration tillage to disrupt soil macropores, improve near-surface infiltration and reduce runoff. The use of a cover crop for stabilizing manure nutrients and contaminants will also be evaluated.In related work, liquid manure is being used as a carrier for establishing biosuppressive cover crops. This work will encourage the use of manure in nontraditional crops where it will have benefits in improving soil quality, reduce commercial fertilizer use, and provide crop protection benefits in reducing soil borne soil fungal diseases.  This will also decrease the need for chemical fumigation of soil and increase the land base available from spreading which will help reduce problems caused by over application on corn ground.

Michigan Helps Local Communities Protect Drinking Water
Owners of the thousands of non-community water supply systems are being encouraged to take a proactive approach to source water protection. Self-assessment tools modeled after Michigan State University Extension’s highly successful Farmstead and Homestead Assessment System program materials were developed for this purpose. In addition, Michigan State University faculty and staff members have worked with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Source Water Protection Unit to develop a decision support system that can (at a relatively minimal cost) aid in the protection of public drinking water supplies. This system links the state of Michigan’s extensive groundwater database and other related data to an interactive groundwater modeling tool, which provides science-based maps of the source-water contributing areas. When coupled with outreach and education activities, these map products are invaluable aides that help the community take actions to protect their groundwater resources.

Source Water Protection Workshop
Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Rural Water Association co-hosted a Source Water Protection Workshop designed for local health department personnel who deal with non-community groundwater supply systems. Approximately 90 local and district health department representatives and state agency staff attended the workshop. Topics included the groundwater inventory and mapping tools and how they can be applied at the local level, new arsenic rules implementation, updating source water assessment information, using Map Image Viewer software for local source water protection efforts and continuing education opportunities for non-community water supplies.

Wellhead Protection Conference
A Wellhead Protection Conference was also held in Midland, Michigan. More than 120 people attended the conference. Sessions included: abandoned well management, wastewater systems, land use planning and zoning, map image viewer, outreach and education, contaminant source inventory, recruiting and maintaining volunteers, groundwater flow model, business community engagement, updating wellhead programs, moving from assessment to protection, groundwater protection in agricultural areas, dealing with contaminated site, integrating storm water management and wellhead protection. Conference evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, and attendees stressed the need for continuing opportunities for information sharing and education regarding wellhead protection programs.

Wellhead Protection for Public Groundwater Supplies
In conjunction with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), MSU Extension staff conducted site visits to 10 communities with public water supplies that rely on groundwater (between October 2004 and April 2005). The purpose of the visits was to assess community efforts in the state’s Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program and provide assistance in addressing the various WHP components. An assessment tool was developed to assist staff in assessing the status of local programming efforts. The results of the individual assessments will be compiled and used to develop a statewide training agenda for wellhead protection communities. In addition, three site visits were made to communities utilizing surface water to encourage the development of a source water protection (SWP) program. The SWP is being modeled after the WHP, and will target Michigan’s 61 community surface water supplies.

In fall 2004 and winter 2005, outreach materials for non-community water supply systems were produced to educate operators about best management practices for source water protection. A self-assessment tool was developed to help the water supply operators identify management activities that may increase the risk of a drinking water contamination incident for their system. With active involvement of local and district health departments, the outreach materials are currently being piloted across several Michigan counties.

Intensive Volunteer Monitoring Training ProgramThis is an intensive training program for Michigan citizens interested in becoming volunteer stream monitors. Led by the MSU Extension Water Quality Team, participants were introduced to hands-on physical, chemical and biological sampling methods and procedures. The training included assessment of the appropriateness of methods; the importance of long-term biological monitoring, proper study design and appropriate methodology. The workshop goals are to better equip citizens to share their information with community leaders, strengthen water quality stewardship in their community, and collect long term data that can be extremely beneficial to assessing the state’s water and identifying problem areas.

Shoreline Restoration
The Shoreline Restoration project to help shoreline property owners protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat through alternative shoreline management was completed this fiscal year. Highlights of the three-year project included the installation of a variety of soil-bioengineered erosion control structures; the design and installation of four 100-foot alternative landscapes (lakescapes) with multiple educational concepts embedded in each; and the creation of interpretive signage, educational materials and lesson plans to enhance and expand the value of this unique educational resource for a variety of targeted audiences to meet this need.  A color brochure was also produced and distributed. Housed at the Kellogg Biological Station, the demonstration site has received hundreds of visitors since its completion.


Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool Web Interface
In 2006, legislation was enacted to manage large water withdrawals in Michigan. A Groundwater Conservation Advisory Council, was appointed the task of developing a water withdrawal assessment screening process and tool that could be utilized by a person proposing a new or increased large quantity withdrawal. The tool was designed to help determine whether the proposed withdrawal could cause an adverse impact to the waters of the state or to water dependent natural resources. The Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University is developing a web-based program incorporating the models used in the tool’s development. The tool is now being beta-tested and should be made available in the upcoming months. It is expected to facilitate informed decisions regarding the reasonable use of large-quantity withdrawals from any specific location within the state. The Institute will also develop training sessions on the use of the system and the proposed registration process.

High Impact Targeting (HIT)
This project focuses on prioritizing watersheds based on sediment loading, and has recently incorporated an economic component. To best assist groups and organizations focused on reducing sediment loading, targeting needs to occur at a fine resolution and results need to be easily accessible for user groups to benefit. In this fiscal year, MSU and partners combined several fine resolution models including the Spatially Explicit Delivery Model (SEDMOD) and the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and were able to estimate the amount of sediment from an individual cell that reaches a stream network within a given year. Economic information (costs and benefits of conservation practices) has been incorporated into the HIT system to evaluate the efficient allocation of conservation efforts within/among the high risk watershed areas. This program is in Phase I of development. Phase II will be available for use by government agencies such as NRCS, Conservation Districts and Michigan Department of Agriculture to prioritize areas for BMP implementation.

Water Withdrawal Policy Development and Education
A series of irrigation and water use materials and registration forms with attached worksheets were produced to inform agricultural producers and water users about reporting water usage on the farm. The fact sheets were developed to help farmers meet legislative requirements for water withdrawals. Each focused on water use for various animal units (dairy, sheep, beef, and swine) and offered instructions for calculating static water level. Water Use Registration Forms were also developed and made available in county offices and through the MSUE Water Quality website. A train-the-trainer workshop was also held to provide Extension educators with the correct information concerning recent groundwater legislation that affects irrigators withdrawing more than 100,000 gallons per day during any 30-day period for an agricultural purpose.

High Impact Targeting
Michigan State University and its partners are completing the first phase in the development of the High Impact Targeting (HIT) System. The system is being used as a tool to focus limited conservation resources on the most serious erosion and pollution problems. The HIT system can be used to identify and target specific areas in agricultural fields that cause the greatest volumes of sediments deposited in waterways and adversely impact water quality and aquatic habitat. The intent is to maximize the beneficial impacts from the installation of new conservation practices on the highest-risk sediment yield areas. HIT relies on advanced geographical information systems (GIS) technology and innovative applications of computer modeling. The HIT system provides data on sediment delivery and agricultural erosion presented in map formats, tables, and other graphic formats. HIT is an interactive system so users can choose the appropriate scale to visualize the GIS data on high-risk areas that are of the greatest interest to them. Users can either compare risk areas in their local watersheds or zoom down to field level and see specific farms with color-coded high risk areas. HIT was specifically designed for use by soil conservation districts, farmers, watershed organizations, the Michigan Department of Agriculture, NRCS, and other conservation organizations. HIT is available on the web at The site is under development and thus serves as a beta version. While this project is being piloted in Michigan, it has significant value across the Great Lakes Region.

Stormwater Management
Michigan State University continued its active involvement with the Greater Lansing Regional Committee on Phase II Non-Point Source Pollution Prevention (GLRC).  The GLRC is a guiding body comprised of twenty participating Phase II communities within the Greater Lansing, Michigan Region.  The committee has been established to guide the implementation of the entire Phase II Program for the communities within three identified watersheds; the Grand River, the Red Cedar River and the Looking Glass River watersheds.  Michigan State University serves as an ex-officio member of the GLRC, and faculty and staff members serve on several GLRC committees.

In addition, MSU representatives worked with neighboring communities to design a uniform decal to be used in area catch basin labeling programs, watershed boundary signage for the three area watersheds and a series of brochures and posters addressing stormwater issues pertaining to motor oil, pet waste, car washing, and lawn care. Work continues on the development of additional printed materials.

Lake and Stream Leadership Training
A series of training sessions and workshops dealing with inland lakes, watershed management, and stormwater were offered across the state. Target audiences included riparians, lake boards, drain commissioners, local government officials, and interested citizens. An alumni program for the Lake and Stream Leader’s Institute was held and attended by over 80% of class members from the previous year. Advanced sessions on lake and stream ecology, legislation, and groundwater-surface water interactions were presented. Field sessions included plant mapping in lakes, stream discharge, and phosphorus analyses. The Michigan Watershed Management Short Course, a short course customized to the host community, county or watershed in partnership with a county MSU Extension office or other local entity, was also held. Extension water team members help local groups plan the course agenda and deliver training modules for the program.

Development of Watershed Management Geo-Spatial and Decision Support System
In Year 1, work has continued on the development of an interactive web-based system that incorporates GIS and modeling for watershed managers. The site ( allows users to visualize the landscape in relation to factors that may have an impact on land and water, and prioritize areas of concerns. This system, previously piloted in Michigan is only now capable of providing information in any location in the continental U.S. By linking to the TerraServer, the system provides ready access to aerial photographs. The system also links to a hydrologic model, L-THIA, at Purdue University and provides the user with their watershed boundary and hydrologic information including land use and hydrologic soil groups. Approximately 2500 unique visits and nearly 2000 multiple visits have been made to the site.

Watershed Short Course
The goals of the Watershed Short Course are to positively influence behaviors and equip citizens with the basic knowledge, skills and resources to address local land use and water quality issues. Pre- and post-course evaluations (after 6 months) are performed to determine if the information learned during the sessions is being used by participants. A total of three watershed management short courses were held this fiscal year with attendance ranging between 25 and 50 per workshop.


Lois Wolfson
(517) 353-9222

Ruth Kline-Robach
(517) 355-0224

Pam Hunt
(517) 432-4555

  Michigan State University Extension Water Network