File photo by Dean Vaglia

Public Works commissioner offers update on ‘muck’ study

By: Dean Vaglia | C&G Newspapers | Published June 20, 2024


MOUNT CLEMENS — Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller recently delivered an update alongside representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the lyngbya “muck” found along the shores of Lake St. Clair.

The update, provided at the June 6 Macomb County Board of Commissioners Public Services Committee meeting, comes over a year after the county entered into a $200,000 two-year agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to study lyngbya and find out what is causing it to grow in the lake. The “muck” was first reported in the lake in 2010 and has bloomed rapidly between 2015 and 2022. The “muck” is greatly disliked for clogging shorelines and having a foul smell.

Alyssa Eck, an Army Corps research biologist, told the board the algae has been renamed to Microseira wollei (M. wollei for short) and is more closely related to bacteria than a plant.

“It’s a single-celled organism,” Eck said. “On the outside, it has a sheath and sometimes that sheath can have bacteria or fungi or sediment and other things around it.”

Physical removal of M. wollei from an area has been successful in the short term, but the organism has grown back within months. The Army Corps and the county remain committed to determining how the organism grows and how it can be properly managed, tracking nutrients in the water compared to growths and determining if any algicides will work on M. wollei.

In 2024, the Army Corps will conduct further field sampling and develop an adaptive management plan. Miller backed the adaptive management idea, stating M. wollei will not go away and that a single “magic bullet” solution will not emerge.

Miller believes combined sewer overflows are one of the causes behind M. wollei growths.