SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Three public hearings will be held in November to solicit comment from stakeholders for a study led by Lawrence Technological University to restore more natural water flows in the upper watershed of the Clinton River in Oakland County.
The study organizers will seek input from all concerned stakeholders in the proposed project, including landowners, associations with lake ownership or riparian rights, municipal governments, county agencies, watershed managers, permit agencies, businesses and recreational users.
The three hearings will be held:
Donald Carpenter, director of the Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute at Lawrence Technological University, is the lead investigator for the study of ways to alleviate extreme variability in water levels experienced in the watershed and the low water levels in the Clinton River during the summer months.
The Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s office has maintained water levels for the lakes according to the settings mandated in a court order more than 40 years ago. Substantial residential and commercial development has changed the river’s watershed, but court-ordered lake levels have not been adjusted to meet current needs of the watershed, according to Carpenter.
Carpenter hopes to identify management methods that could increase the flow of water to the Clinton River without causing major problems for people using the lakes that feed the headwaters.
“The problem is that low water may have a negative impact on fish and wildlife habitat and the environment,” Carpenter said. “Everyone wins if we can protect and upgrade this valuable natural resource without negatively impacting the surrounding lakes.”
Major issues to be considered in the study include water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and the effects of lake level controls on adjoining lakes and the watershed. Economic indicators including property taxes, insurance costs and business income will also be considered.
“We want to look at the lakes as a system and come up with a better management plan,” Carpenter said. “The overall goal of this integrated assessment is to develop a more comprehensive, holistic approach to water level management in the watershed.”
Major funding for the three-year study, which started in 2009, comes from Michigan Sea Grant, a joint program of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. The remaining funds will be provided by Lawrence Tech and project partners, which include ECT, Inc. of Ann Arbor, Veritas Economic Consulting of Cary, NC, and Oakland University.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John P. McCulloch said the meeting is important and will provide valuable information. “I encourage residents and community leaders to attend and participate in one of these meetings to learn more about their impact on the health of the watershed,” he said.
Lawrence Technological University, ltu.edu, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey and Traverse City. Lawrence Tech also offers programs with partner universities in Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.