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Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are concerned about an oil spill or another hazardous spill, you should immediately call the following three numbers:

    1. ) 911 to notify local authorities 
    2. ) 800-292-4706 to notify State authorities (Michigan Pollution Emergency Alert System-EGLE)
    3. )  800-424-8802 to notify Federal authorities (National Response Center-USCG)
  1. ) If you are concerned about a HAB event on your lake, you should contact EGLE as soon as possible, since blooms can dissipate quickly. If possible, send an email to algaebloom@michigan.gov and include a few pictures of the bloom. You can also call the Environmental Assistance Center to report the bloom at 1-800-662-9278.
  2. ) More HAB’s information can be found on EGLE’s website

Rrefrain from eating fish from the lake about 3 weeks after the water near shore is below detect for microcystin.  Fish can have microcystin in their flesh for up to 3 weeks after a bloom dissipates.   That is also maximally conservative given that fish like bass will forage near shore and then go back into somewhat deeper water for part of the day as well.  This is a conservative approach that protects best against potential exposure.

    1. ) Microcystin toxin does not biomagnify up the food chain, but it does accumulate in fish tissue. So an individual fish may be contaminated, but that does not mean larger fish who eat contaminated fish would have more toxins in their bodies.
    2. ) There is not a lot of information to judge health risks. The World Health Organization offers the following advice: In waters where blue-green algae blooms exist, people should eat fish in moderation, and because the accumulation of toxins may be greatest in fish intestines, they should avoid eating fish guts. Fish caught during an algae bloom may have an earthy, musty flavor, but the condition is harmless as far as is known.

You can file a complaint on EGLE’s MiEnviro Portal. These complaints must be addressed by EGLE staff before they can be dismissed and require minimal information.

Contact the local unit of government that passed the ordinance to notify them of your concern.

  1. ) Inland lakes water levels are regulated by different groups. View the maps below for more information
  2. ) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Dam Map 
  3. ) EGLE Dam Map

a.) You can stabilize your shoreline by planting deep-rooting native plants, or creating a no-mow zone to see what naturally grows along your shoreline.

b.) If stumps are left along your shoreline, they will help stabilize the shoreline. Sometimes you can keep them alive and sheared short, so their roots keep doing their job. If the stumps are overhanging the water, they can provide habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates. 

c.) More severe erosion will need a bioengineering solution. You can contract with the Watershed Council for a solution, or you can refer to the list of Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals at www.mishorelinepartnership.org 

d.) Resources

  1. ) Learn more about shoreline erosion by downloading “Understanding, Living With, and Controlling Shoreline Erosion (3rd Edition)” by Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council 
  2. ) Sensible Shoreline Development (updated 2018)


e.) Remember that any work done below the Ordinary High Water Mark requires a permit from EGLE.

  1. ) Using fertilizers that do not have phosphorus in them is key. Address the soil and any deficits there may be that, inadvertently, favor weeds over turf. Consider top dressing with a good organic compost (like Emmet County has available through the drop-off station on Pleasantview), or some more mechanical approaches, like core-aeration, dethatching, or overseeding with a more suitable turf grass variety, etc. Soil testing is also recommended. 
  2. ) MDARD educational fertilizer handout
  1. ) It is important to remember that any application of pesticides to or over water requires a permit.
  2. ) You can sign up for pesticide safety and educational emails here
  3. ) EPA Pesticide information

Learn more about high water levels on the Watershed Council website here 

    1. ) This webpage on the website currently has other FAQs on it that are different that high water level related things

Learn more on the Watershed Council’s swimmer itch page here

a.) Permits are required for many activities associated with wetlands, inland lakes, and streams, including:

    1. ) Fill, dredge, draining, or water level control activities affecting inland lakes, streams, and regulated wetlands.
    2. ) Projects affecting shorelines, dams, floodplains, critical dunes, and high risk erosion areas.
    3. ) Emergency permitting may be available when a project is deemed necessary to protect property or the public health, safety or welfare.


b.) This EGLE document will help you decide if a permit is necessary for your project

c.) This document will help you determine which permitting staff to contact

d.) You can file a joint EGLE and USACE permit here

The DNR deals with nuisance wildlife, and the Watershed Council does not. You can view the DNR’s nuisance wildlife webpage here

  1. ) Some cattails are invasive and others are native. The Watershed Council can assist with plant identification. You can send us pictures for identification, or contract us for a site visit. Another great resource is the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMA) in your area. Find your CISMA here 
  2. ) Remember that invasive removal by pesticide requires a permit.
  1. ) The Watershed Council can assist with plant identification. You can send us pictures for identification, or contact us for a site visit. Another great resource is the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMA) in your area. Find your CISMA here
  2. ) Remember that aquatic invasive species removal often requires a permit. You can find more information on EGLE’s Aquatic Nuisance Control page.
  1. ) For years, most people have flushed their unused medicines down the toilet or sink. After being flushed or poured down a drain, many medicines pass through sewer and septic systems. Sewage treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to treat all the substances contained in medications. Therefore, most of these chemicals pass through the treatment systems and accumulate in rivers, lakes, groundwater, and even our drinking water. Pharmaceutical contaminants are a steady source of chemical exposure for aquatic species, and affect the quality of the waters we rely upon for drinking and look to for recreation.  This can cause adverse effects in fish and other aquatic wildlife as well as unintentional human exposure to chemicals in the medications.  Keeping prescription and over-the-counter medicines out of the environment is an important way to prevent pollution of our Northern Michigan waters and the Great Lakes.
  2. ) Over 80% of waterways tested in the United States show traces of common medications such as acetaminophen, hormones, blood pressure medicine, codeine, and antibiotics.
  3. ) Trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs have been detected in the drinking water sources of an estimated 41 million Americans.
  4. ) You can find more information, as well as the upcoming collection dates here: https://www.pillsinthepod.com/

Coir logs are made up of coconut fibers, which are bound together by biodegradable netting. They are used to stabilize shorelines and streambanks, when increased amounts of erosion is happening.

You can learn more here: 

    1. ) https://watershedcouncil.org/our-work/watershed-protection/shoreline-streambanks/ 
    2. ) https://watershedcouncil.org/shoreline-streambanks/greenbelts/greenbelts/
    3. ) https://watershedcouncil.org/projects/holmes-road-stream-restoration/
  1. ) Bubblers that are attached to permanent docks, and not placed on bottomland do not require a State of Michigan permit. However, some local governments may have regulations that ban bubblers, so you should check with your local government. 
  2. ) Bubblers should not be used to impede navigation of lake users. Adding a bubbler to your permanent structure means you are also taking on the liability, should death or injury result from the use of a bubbler to de-ice an area.
  1. ) The excessive wakes that wake boats produce can erode shorelines at a much faster rate than other boating activities. 
  2. ) You can protect your shoreline by having a greenbelt, which acts as a buffer zone. The native plants that make up a greenbelt stabilize the shoreline with their root systems. 
  3. ) State of Michigan DNR Wake Boat Report 2023