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What We Do Home>Environmental Planning>Watersheds, Water Quality & Wetlands>Galien River Watershed>Pollutants/Nutrients

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Contaminants in certain water bodies within the Watershed exceed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's (MDEQ) Total Maximum Daily Load requirements, making water quality standards sub par. Initial findings of inventory and water sampling, conducted during development of the 2003 Galien River WMP, indicate impaired water quality at high enough levels to classify E. coli, sediment, nutrients, and possibly pesticides as high-priority concerns in the watershed. 


The following pollutants and impairments have had the greatest impact on the designated uses in the Watershed.E. coli is impairing the designated uses of partial and total body contact recreation and agriculture for livestock watering. High E. coli levels close beaches and reduce recreational opportunities and tourism. High E. coli levels can be harmful to livestock if ingested. E. coli bacteria are an indicator of other pathogens in the water. E. coli can be present in surface water and drinking water primarily through contamination from animal or human wastes. Current studies and investigations in the watershed concluded that failing septic systems, illicit sewage connections, livestock operations, and pet and wildlife waste are potential sources of E. coli. Storm water runoff could also be a source in the more urbanized areas.


Click to view a presentation on water pollutants in the Galien River Watershed.



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The presence of excess nutrients and algae impairs partial body contact recreation by creating unsightly conditions of the waterways. Excess nutrients impair warm water and coldwater fisheries by decreasing the dissolved oxygen in the water when oxygen is consumed to aid in the decomposition of the plants. An overabundance of exotic aquatic plant species crowds out other indigenous species, changing the balance of the system. Elevated nutrients in surface waters result in the overpopulation of aquatic plant species that are able to absorb nutrients, grow quickly, and adapt to changing conditions.

This page last updated on 12/14/2010.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
Phone: 269.925.1137  Fax: 269.925.0288  

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