Conservation District receives grant to fight nonpoint pollution

This map shows the Looking Glass River's path through southern and western Shiawassee County. The river eventually connects with the Grand River.

SHIAWASSEE COUNTY — The Soil Conservation District is looking ahead to combating nonpoint source pollution along the Looking Glass River, thanks to a $436,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

The Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant is from EGLE’s Nonpoint Source Program, and requires a $59,900 match from the SCD, as well as $16,200 in in-kind support from the Shiawassee County Drain Commission.

“We look forward to working with the SCD in helping to restore the Looking Glass River watershed,” said Shiawassee County Drain Commissioner Anthony Newman in a press release. “Our headwaters contribute a great deal to the Looking Glass River and efforts in this grant will not only help landowners but make a great difference to water quality in the Great Lakes.”

According to a press release, EGLE’s nonpoint source program assists local units of government, nonprofits and others in reducing nonpoint source pollution statewide. The program works with stakeholders to develop and implement plans to protect Michigan’s water.

According to SCD executive director Melissa Higbee, the grant will focus on agricultural pollution along the river, which traverses most of southern Shiawassee County. Higbee said the SCD will provide technical assistance to landowners, as well as money for best management practices.

The grant program will address agricultural sources of E. coli, nutrients and sediment in the watershed, she said, with an emphasis on “critical areas” listed in the Watershed Management Plan, by facilitating enrollment in Farm Bill conservation programs such as EQIP, CRP, CSP and others.

Nonpoint sources of pollution can’t be attributed to a single identifiable source, the SCD said in the press release. Sources include runoff, which can carry pollutants from yards, farm fields, roads, and parking lots.

The Clean Michigan Initiative Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Fund was created with the goal of helping restore waters that are impacted by nonpoint source pollution and protect Michigan’s high-quality waters from degradation.

Conservation districts are lead agencies for local watershed programs, the SCD noted. Districts assist landowners in putting conservation on the ground, which helps improve water quality. Districts also help decision-making bodies create plans to improve water quality.

Water in the Looking Glass River Watershed flows to the Grand River, which ends up in Lake Michigan.

Higbee said the grant reimburses money spent locally, so the county will receive funding as it spends money, with reimbursement flowing quarterly.

The grant program begins with the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The grant program runs through fiscal year 2023.

For more information on the Looking Glass River Watershed, Clean Michigan Initiative Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Fund, or the voluntary programs available through this project, contact the Shiawassee Conservation District at (989) 723-8263, ext. 3.

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