Upper Straits Lake is one of 74 Oakland County lakes included in the Healthy Lakes Initiative, which trains volunteers to monitor lake water quality throughout the summer.

Upper Straits Lake is one of 74 Oakland County lakes included in the Healthy Lakes Initiative, which trains volunteers to monitor lake water quality throughout the summer.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


New initiative bolsters lake monitoring program

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 12, 2018

 A pair of ducks swim in Upper Straits Lake April 10. It is one of the few lakes that took part in the initiative last year, too.

A pair of ducks swim in Upper Straits Lake April 10. It is one of the few lakes that took part in the initiative last year, too.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

PONTIAC — The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has launched its latest project, the Healthy Lakes Initiative, to plenty of success, registering 60 new lakes with the program. 

Earlier this year, the Healthy Lakes Initiative was launched in partnership with the county Health Division and the Michigan Clean Water Corps, or MiCorps, which offers a statewide program called the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, or CLMP.

The CLMP is a free training program that trains volunteers to monitor lake water quality throughout the summer. The program specifically focuses on algae growth and invasive plants.

“The Healthy Lakes Initiative is part of a bigger statewide program called the CLMP, which is done across Michigan,” said Paul Steen, a MiCorps program manager who has been involved with the CLMP for about 10 years. “(The Healthy Lakes Initiative) is a specialized part of the CLMP now.” 

Steen said that the Healthy Lakes Initiative is the first geographically focused lake monitoring initiative to work with the CLMP. 

“With all the emphasis on clean water, we can’t sit by and let lakes die from invasive species,” said Oakland County Commissioner Marcia Gershenson, D-West Bloomfield. “There are some lakes under severe distress because the homeowners or associations don’t really know how to deal with invasive species. We’re hoping this really brings a lot of support to local lake associations.” 

In 2017, 14 Oakland County lakes were registered with the CLMP. This year, as part of the Healthy Lakes Initiative, 74 Lakes in Oakland County are registered. There are about 100 volunteers in the program this year.

“I really have a personal commitment to maintaining healthy lakes,” said Gershenson. “What differentiates Michigan from so many other states — it’s one of our most valued resources. … We can’t wait for other people to take care of our environment.”

Beginning next month and running through mid-September, volunteers will take water samples weekly and will survey the lakes for invasive species. 

“It’s a program designed to train people how to take the measurements and work with the (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) lab in getting those samples analyzed,” said Steen. “Then it comes back to the volunteers and what they are able to do. We provide guidance on what to do.”

MiCorps can provide advice to the volunteers in the event that water samples are concerning, but volunteers will not be given directives. If the volunteers don’t have the resources to do anything further, that is where the project ends. If volunteers do decide to move forward, Steen said, examples of what they could do are removing  invasive species manually or hiring an external company to manage and fight algae in the lake.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners will train the volunteers 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 5 in the Commissioners Auditorium. Volunteer registration closed April 2. 

For more information about the CLMP, visit www.micorps.net/lake-monitoring.