Source: Sherman Publications

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Letter to the Editor
Mill Pond reflects larger issues which need to be addressed locally

June 20, 2012

Dear Editor,

I too noticed the water level in the Mill Pond, but see it as part of a larger issue ("Low water level in Mill Pond," June 6).

Although I haven't physically measured the local water bodies, I have collected anecdotal evidence through photography, the majority of which has been in the headwaters of the Clinton at Independence Oaks.

Since my return to Michigan in 2004, the hydrologic nature of the water here has changed. On top of the Mill Pond,Vernal pools at the park were bone dry when previous years, they were overflowing with water and life. It could be partly cyclic, or it could be part of something more dramatic. Without widespread data, any "conclusion" would be rough at best.

However, there are certain principals that play out rather straightforward. Infiltrated water moves laterally and feeds the surface water level of our rivers lakes and streams. The DNR keeps many water levels artificially high through a series of dams and weirs, masking any developing impacts. Any masking occurring can only be successful for so long before impact appears.

Watersheds with an excess of 10 % impervious cover will show signs of urbanization and those signs are overtly apparent in the channels and lakes within the boundaries of our township.

This is especially noticeable if actually being observed more than casually. I would be happy to take anyone with interest to locations where I have observed the various phenomenon that I refer to.

The City of the Village of Clarkston, Independence Township and Clarkston Schools all have stormwater permits.

Permits in Michigan, historically, have been more prominently focused on good housekeeping practices and pollution prevention. That is a separate issue I won't get into here.

The other portion of the stormwater permit that I've seen minimally addressed (not just here) is the actual management of "wet weather."

EPA is pushing for "volume capture" as a means of addressing stormwater impacts, and is looking to regulate volume of discharge as a pollutant. This is the single most effective way to reverse negative impacts of urbanization on a watershed, outside of outright greenspace preservation (which is admittedly less expensive).

Volume capture means every new development must maintain 95-100% of wet weather runoff on property, either through infiltration practices (that can be combined with rain gardens) or rainwater catchment/harvesting practices. For greatest effectiveness, it also includes a requirement for retrofitting upgrades be applied to older detention basins as they exceed their planned life, which many in the area are or will soon meet.

These practices reduce pollution getting into the waterways, restore groundwater stores that maintain the surface elevation of lakes, ponds and rivers, reduce the erosion associated with the spikes in discharge associated with urbanization and are less expensive to build and maintain than traditional practices.

I'm pleased to tip my hat to two of the three Democratic Candidates for Township Board, JD Mitchell and Kevin Bushroe who are interested in and have some knowledge of/are learning about these practices.

It's early in the game, there are months before we vote. But citizens should be aware decisions by the board do have direct and indirect cause and effect relationship with things like traffic flow and surface water expression. I hope understanding this correlation and seeing "impact" first hand on the Mill Pond (and elsewhere) will encourage you to support candidates who care.

Tammie Heazlit

Independence Township