Oakland County Partners with Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) to Provide Residents with Free Water Quality Training and Equipment

December 31, 2017 09:31

by Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

The following was first reported in the December 28, 2017 edition of  The Daily Tribune,  19176 Hall Road, Clinton Township, MI

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners is partnering with the county’s health division and the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) to provide county residents with free training and equipment to monitor lake water quality next summer.

Through the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP), residents will learn how to take weekly samples and conduct a survey of aquatic invasive species from mid-May through mid-September. All volunteers must have access to a boat. Those interested should attend one of two informational sessions in February and the required training in May.

County Board Chairperson Michael Gingell said the county is excited to partner with the program to provide residents with valuable resources to monitor the health of area lakes. (NOTE: Oakland County has more lakes than any other county in Michigan.) “Together we can help preserve and protect hundreds of lakes across Oakland County for generations to come,” said Gingell.

In August, the county received $200,000 in state grants, federal funds, and beach monitoring supplies from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the highest amount of any county in the state.

County Commissioner Dave Woodward said the partnership is a win-win for protecting the county’s lakes. He said the program will help to protect the county’s waterways for years to come.

To read the full article posted by The Daily Tribune, follow this link:

Short Term Rentals, Long Term Consequences

December 15, 2017 06:17

By Clifford H. Bloom, Esq.
Bloom Sluggett Law PC
Grand Rapids, Michigan

You likely have been hearing quite a bit recently about short-term rentals in Michigan. What is a short-term rental and why does it matter?

There is no specific legal definition of a short-term rental. However, for purposes of the controversy raging regarding short-term rentals throughout Michigan, a short-term rental (“STR”) is typically an otherwise single-family dwelling, cottage, cabin or condominium unit that is rented to someone other than the owner of the dwelling. In most cases, an STR involves only one family or couple renting a dwelling unit at one time. Such rentals can be for such disparate time periods as 30 days, two weeks, one week, a long four-day weekend or even two days. The shorter the rental time period, the more objectionable is the STR to many neighbors and other property owners in the community. Long-term rentals of a dwelling to a single family or couple (for example, a year or longer) are normally not objectionable.

Why do so many neighbors and community members often object to an STR? Typically, there are multiple reasons. First, the rental of a single-family dwelling to a family or couple for relatively short periods of time tends to have a commercial “feel” to such rentals. Long-term rentals to a couple or single family for a particular dwelling tend to have more characteristics of an owner-occupied property. The second objection is what has sometimes been referred to as the “rental car syndrome.” Just as many people tend to treat a rental car with much less caution and care than their own vehicle that may also be the case with regard to short-term tenants. Finally, there is a general perception that an STR lowers the property values for the neighborhood or community involved.

Interestingly enough, until fairly recently, there were few municipal ordinances in Michigan that either regulate or prohibited STRs. Given the increase in the number of dwellings that are being leased for STRs and the rising controversy, an increasing number of municipalities have recently begun adopting STR ordinance provisions. While some municipalities prohibit STRs altogether or put a “cap” on the number allowed in certain areas, most municipalities have chosen to simply regulate STRs by means of registration, general rules and regulations and building or health codes. Typically, where a municipal zoning ordinance does not expressly address STRs, they are considered lawful single-family residential uses, so long as a dwelling is rented to only one family or couple at a time.

Given the increasing controversy regarding STRs, some rental and real estate groups have become alarmed at efforts by local municipalities to regulate or even ban STRs. Hence, legislation has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature to prohibit local municipalities from prohibiting or even significantly regulating STRs. As of the date that this article was written, the two bills involved are SB 329 and HB 4503. If enacted into law, such legislation would “preempt” or preclude local municipal prohibition and even significant regulation of STRs.

Unfortunately, preemption by legislation (i.e., taking away local zoning and ordinance controls over certain matters) is on the increase. Special interest groups have been able to enact legislation in Michigan that severely limits, and in some cases actually prevents, the ability of local governments (i.e., cities, townships, villages and counties) to regulate uses such as mining, intensive farm livestock operations, landfills, foster care group homes, neighborhood daycare operations, oil and gas wells and pipelines and commercial water withdrawals for bottling. Such loss of local control should alarm all property owners and taxpayers.

Why should any of this matter to riparian property owners? If legislation taking away local control of STRs is enacted into law, STRs could flourish in many lake neighborhoods. That could have a negative impact upon area property values, traffic, the intensity of use of waterfront dwellings and even noise levels. If you have any concerns about the proposed preemption legislation, you should contact your local Michigan senator or representative.

Learn about Michigan’s Lakes On-line from MSU Extension

December 8, 2017 18:58

The Michigan State University Extension Introduction to Lakes course is being offered online January 2018 and registration is now open! This popular six-week course is offered in a convenient self-paced online format and is designed for anyone interested in lakes, including lakefront property owners, lake users, local government officials, lake managers and educators. Over the last two years, 235 lake enthusiasts across Michigan and surrounding states participated in the class.

The on-line format allows you, from the comfort of your home or office, to have week-by-week, 24/7 access to six online units — complete with video lectures, activities, resources, discussion forums, quizzes, and Ask-an-Expert webinar sessions with Michigan State University Extension. Through this convenient format you can increase your knowledge and understanding of lake ecology, lake and their watersheds, shorelines, Michigan water law, aquatic plant management, and citizen involvement. The course schedule allows for regular online communication with classmates and course instructors.

Participants who complete the course will receive a free one year membership to the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and 4 editions of the Michigan Riparian.

The 2018 course runs January 23 – March 9. Ask-an-Expert webinars are scheduled from 12 to 1 p.m. February 7, February 21, and March 7, 2018. The cost of the course is $115 per person. Register by December 22, 2017 for an early bird discounted price of $95 per person. Registration ends January 16, 2018.

Fourteen Michigan Department of Rural Development Pesticide Applicator Recertification credits, 14 Michigan Department of Education State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH), and 6 Master Citizen Planner Education Credits are available for this course.

McNALMS and MLSA Call for Proposals for 2018 Lake Research Grant Program

December 8, 2017 18:50

The Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society (McNALMS) and Michigan Lake and Stream Associations (ML&SA) are pleased to announce a call for proposals for our 2018 Lake Research Grants Program.  We are soliciting proposals from students and lake leaders. Projects that increase the understanding of lake ecology, strengthen collaborative lake management, build lake partnerships and/or expand citizen involvement in lake management, and have applicability to Michigan inland lakes are eligible for consideration. A total of $3,000 has been allocated to fund one or more projects in 2018.

 The purpose of the McNALMS and ML&SA Grants Program is to promote the research and outreach efforts of both University students and those that have completed a volunteer leadership training program. Proposals may be part of a larger project. Proposals will be funded for one calendar year.

 Examples of previously funding projects include:

·  An analysis of phosphorus loading and the ecological impacts from agricultural tile drains in a west Michigan watershed, the
results of which were published earlier this year in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

·  A study looking at social, cultural, and economic factors underlying lakeshore property owners’ willingness to conserve natural
aquatic habitat on their properties.

·  Littoral primary production and effects of invasive macrophytes in Michigan lakes

·  Young of the year fish mortality along a lakeshore development gradient

 If you have a student or know one or more who might be interested in applying for funding, please pass this information on to them.  Complete details as well as a link to the application form are available at  Deadline for submission is February 23, 2018, and announcement of recipients will be made by the end of March 2018.

Are Short-Term Rentals Right for Your Community?

December 6, 2017 05:17

By Paul J. Sniadecki, ML&SA Board Director

(Michigan House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 379)

How would you feel if the lakefront cottage, or house next door turned into a constant “Airbnb” or an unregulated hotel? Imagine having strangers in your residential neighborhood most of the time, coming and going at the strangest hours, staying up late, or taking your parking spaces.

That is the potential result of legislation currently being considered by your Michigan Senators and Representatives in Lansing. The proposed laws would treat all short-term rentals as a permitted, unregulated use in any area zoned for residential use. The legislation would effectively “preempt” local control and supersede local zoning regulations that seek to preserve residential neighborhoods.

These bills have all the appearances of making it easier for people in tourist areas to rent residential properties to short-term visitors. Some special interest groups support the proposed laws. The Michigan Townships Association (MTA), who provides support to the 1,240 Townships in Michigan, opposes the bills because they take away local control.

Right now your local government controls land and property use, if a zoning ordinance has been adopted. Historically and generally, that is how Michigan has functioned. These bills would take away that local control of land and property use.

Maybe short-term rentals are right for your community, but historically that type of decision has been left to the people most affected: local residents. If you agree that this is a matter were the State of Michigan should preempt local control, then do nothing. Your silence will tell Lansing they are doing the right thing. You also can call Lansing and support the bills. After all, the state now preempts local control of where Michigan State Police radio communications towers maybe located, and preempts municipalities from banning plastic bags and cups, or from establishing local minimum wage laws that are higher than those mandated by state law.

On the other hand, if you believe the Michigan legislature should not be functioning as a statewide planning and zoning commission, then contact your state senator and representative to oppose House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 379.

The choice is yours. The bills are currently in “Committee” as of 12/6/2017, but could move quickly towards a vote. One thing for sure, we will all have to live with the results.

To find out who your state senator is and how to contact them, click here

To find out who your state representatives are and how to contact them, click here

Registration Now Open for 2018 Michigan Natural Shoreline Professional Training and Certification Program Training

November 3, 2017 12:07

MNSP+logo[1]The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership is pleased to offer the

2018 Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Professional (MCNSP) Training and Certification Program Training

Two days of classroom instruction and a one-day field exercise designed to equip professional landscape and marine contractors to design, implement and maintain natural shoreline landscapes on inland lakes.

► Classroom instruction includes topics on:

Michigan lakes and problems with shoreline development
Characteristics and benefits of natural shorelines
Shoreline ecosystems, soils and native plants
Methods, techniques and design of bio-engineered shoreline erosion control
Designing, monitoring and maintaining a natural shoreline landscape
Natural shoreline case studies
Water law and shoreline development permits

► One-day field exercise installing a natural shoreline landscape on an inland lake property (scheduled at a later date).

Certification: Completion of all two days of in-class instruction and one day of field exercise and successfully passing the certification exam is required. Certification is valid for three years. Re-certification requires the payment of a fee.

Benefits of becoming an MCNSP

  • Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Professional identifies you as having successfully completed this training in the use of “green” landscaping technologies and bio-engineered erosion control for the protection of Michigan inland lakes. MCNSP is approved by the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership and recognized by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Your name and contact information will be posted on the MDEQ and Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership websites as having completed the Certified Natural Shoreline Professional training.
  • Participants in the class will also receive in-depth training on State of Michigan’s permit requirements and process for soft shoreline construction.

Training Course Dates/Locations:
CLASSROOM: East Lansing, MI – Mar. 6 & 7, 2018
EXAM/FIELD: Paw Paw, MI – June 13, 2018

To participate in the 2018 MCNSP training event, download an application by clicking here , or you may register on-line by clicking here

MI House of Representatives Considers Weaker Ballast Water Standards: A Boon to Aquatic Invasive Species

November 2, 2017 13:58

by Mitch Barrows
Freshwater Future

Lawmakers in the Michigan House are set to consider a bill that would weaken Michigan’s ballast water pollution standards. House Bill 5095 would effectively repeal the standards passed in 2005 with near unanimous bipartisan support, and leave us to rely exclusively on weaker federal standards for ballast water pollution. Freshwater Future responded with the following statement:

“Aquatic invasive species wreak havoc on Great Lakes waters, costing local and regional economies billions each year. The release of ballast water from Great Lakes ships has been undeniably a mode of entry for the most destructive aquatic invasive species-including zebra and quagga mussels, sea lamprey, and a variety of plant species. By lowering safeguards to weaker federal standards, Michigan lawmakers threaten the economic and ecological health and stability of the entire Great Lakes region.”

The direct threats of invasive species include preying on native species, out-competing native species for food or other resources, causing or carrying disease, and preventing native species from reproducing or killing a native species’ young.

As Great Lakes residents, many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems. Invasive species are virtually impossible to eradicate once established in our waterways, and mitigation efforts are costly and many times non-existent. Thus their effects are irreversible.
The bill was approved by the committee on a vote of 9 yes, 3 no, 2 pass, 1 absent.

Read the official legislative analysis by clicking  here   for more detailed information on what changes the bill proposes.

The Killer Bees Appear to be Winning – An Update on Wake Boats

October 9, 2017 12:51

By Clifford H. Bloom, Esq.
Bloom Sluggett, PC
Grand Rapids, Michigan

The watercraft commonly known as wakeboard boats, bladder boats, ballast boats or wave boats (hereinafter, “wake boats”) are increasingly becoming a big problem on inland lakes throughout Michigan. Wake boats are not simply a different type of boat, and the problems they create are not just a matter of degree. The problems caused by wake boats are geometrically worse than conventional speed boats. This article will update my earlier Attorney Writes column on wake boats from the Fall 2013 issue of the Riparian Magazine called “Of Mosquitoes and Killer Bees.”

As wake boarding has steadily increased in popularity over the past decade, statewide sales of recreational boats designed to create large, high energy wakes have also increased dramatically. Intense competition among wake boat manufacturers has led to the development of new technologies to improve the ability of their boats to create increasingly high energy wakes. Variable, high volume ballast systems, as well as specially designed hulls, propellers and powertrains, have all led to significant improvement in the performance of wake boats in recent years. The potential for collateral damage to docks, hoists, moored boats and other shoreline equipment as well as the potential for shoreline erosion increases with wake boat displacement, engine and hull size, and speed. Ballast-laden wake boats operating at even moderate speeds are capable of producing surface and near-surface wake related energy levels that substantially exceeds the energy created by even the largest of waves induced by intense summer thunderstorms and/or high winds on inland lakes.

Why are wake boats such a problem on Michigan inland lakes? There are generally at least three problems associated with such watercraft. First, they are having significant negative environmental impacts on lakes. Why? Wake boats are designed not only to throw a larger wake or wave than conventional boats, but their propulsion system and deep wakes disturb the bottom lands of the lake involved to a much greater depth and degree than other boats. Given such boats’ hyper-wave effect, they tend to keep lake waters churned up (and murky) as well as continually disturbing the bottom lands of the shallower lakes, which imperils natural aquatic plants, insects, fish and microscopic life. Many of the adverse environmental impacts remain unknown and untested at this time.

Second, wake boats are destroying natural shorelines, seawalls and other shoreline protective structures throughout the state. Waves created by wake boats are not only larger and more intense than waves created by conventional boats, they also slam into shorelines and seawalls with much greater force and velocity. Many riparian landowners have reported that seawalls and shorelines which have for years been able to withstand conventional boating activity are being destroyed or disrupted in relatively short periods of time by the large waves from wake boats. In many instances, the operators of wake boats are destroying the private property of others.
Finally, wake boats present significant safely hazards to other boaters, swimmers and even people resting or sitting on or in moored boats, swim rafts and docks. It is not uncommon for the wave from a wake boat to cause a person to fall down on or fall off of a dock or moored boat, or even break boat mooring lines.

Unfortunately, on a relatively small lake, just a few wake boats operated irresponsibly (and even sometimes, operated in a normal fashion) can destroy many of the attributes that makes lake living attractive.

What can be done to resolve the problems associated with wake boats? Sadly, in Michigan, the options appear to be limited. Some of the possible solutions are as follows:

A. More vigorous enforcement of existing Michigan boating laws.
Existing Michigan laws already make it illegal to operate a boat at a wake producing speed within a certain distance of the shore, a dock, a swim raft, a swimmer, a fisherman or sailboats. Furthermore, the improper use of a wake boat could constitute careless or even reckless boating in a given situation. More vigorous enforcement of these laws as to wake boats could make a difference.

B. Special watercraft rules.
Pursuant to MCL 324.80108 et seq., the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (the “DNR”), in conjunction with a local municipality, can adopt one or more special watercraft rules for a given inland lake. The special watercraft rules include no wake areas, no wake lakes, a limitation on hours for high speed boating and water skiing and similar restrictions. Unfortunately, however, the statute does not allow the adoption of a special watercraft rule to ban or regulate certain types of boats, such as wake boats. Furthermore, the DNR generally will not agree to adopt a special watercraft rule unless there is a demonstrated safety problem with the lake involved.

C. The possibility of a municipality adopting its own local ordinance regarding wake boats.
Theoretically, a Michigan township, city or village could adopt a local ordinance (without DNR involvement) to regulate or potentially even ban wake boats on some or all lakes within the municipality. Miller v Fabius Township Board, 366 Mich 250 (1962). However, it is also possible that any such regulations are preempted by either state or federal law. Preemption occurs where either the federal or state government has taken away (or severely curtailed) the ability of a local government to regulate a particular area. Michigan courts have not yet ruled regarding whether the special watercraft rule procedure found in MCL 324.80108 et seq. preempts the ability of local municipalities to regulate on-water activities on their own.

D. State legislation.
The Michigan legislature has full power to regulate or even ban wake boats on Michigan inland lakes. However, due to the lobbying power of the boating industry, such regulations are not likely to be enacted. Nevertheless, it should also be pointed out that even if the sale and use of wake boats were prohibited or significantly regulated, it likely would not adversely affect commerce or the boating industry for the simple fact that almost all of the people who would purchase wake boats would buy other conventional boats as an alternative. One common sense legislative proposal would be for the Michigan Legislature to adopt a law or statute that prohibits wake boats from being used on inland lakes under a certain size (for example, 2,000 acres) and to forbid wake boats from being used (or at least their bladders or mega-wave capabilities from being used) within so many feet of the shoreline (for example, 1,000 feet). Such regulations could help minimize the adverse safety, environmental and property damage effects of wake boats.

E. Private civil damages lawsuits.
If a wake boat damages a riparian’s dock, swim raft, seawall or other property, that riparian might have the ability to pursue a damages lawsuit against the operator of the wake boat involved. However, such lawsuits would likely be not only expensive, but could potentially be difficult to win. Damage to seawalls and other property is often cumulative and may not be caused simply by one wake boat.

F. A riparian rights lawsuit.
In Michigan, a lakefront or riparian property owner can only use his or her lake frontage and the surface of the water of the lake in a reasonable fashion. See Thompson v Enz, 379 Mich 667; 154 NW2d 473 (1967); Three Lakes Assn v Kessler, 91 Mich App 371; 285 NW2d 300 (1979); Pierce v Riley, 81 Mich App 39; 264 NW2d 110 (1978); West Michigan & Market Corp v Lakeland Investments, 210 Mich App 505; 534 NW2d 212 (1995), and Square Lake Hills Condo Assn v Bloomfield Twp, 437 Mich 310; 471 NW2d 321 (1991). On a given lake (particularly a smaller inland lake), one or more riparian property owners could theoretically pursue a lawsuit against the operator of a wake boat for unreasonably interfering with the riparian rights of others. To the extent that the wake boat damages a riparian’s lake bottom lands, seawall or other property, or effectively “crowds out” other riparians from using the lake, that could potentially be actionable via a civil lawsuit. The idea is somewhat novel, but could potentially evolve into court sanctioned litigation.

Many of the problems created by wake boats are a result of operators not being thoughtful of their neighbors and fellow riparians. Following the Golden Rule would likely cut down significantly on the problems caused by wake boats.

Should you feel strongly regarding this matter, please contact your local Michigan senator or representative. You can also contact the Michigan Waterfront Alliance at (989) 821-6661 or at

Join the Adventures in Collective Water Management Network on Friday, November 17th

October 9, 2017 08:06

Join the Adventures in Collective Water Management Network on Friday, November 17
for an informative discussion about managing waste water and sewage in your community/watershed


This webinar is the 4th in a series of free, on-going support for riparians and local Government Officials following the ML&SA Annual Conference in April 2017.

On Friday, November 17, 2017, at 1:30 PM, The Adventures in Collective Water Management Network will be offering a forum to learn about local efforts for managing wastewater and sewage in your community/watershed. The emphasis will be on septic and sewer systems. This unique webinar format (you can log-in from anywhere via the internet) invites participants to contribute to the conversation. If you are inspired to help prevent future damage from wastewater and sewage in your local community, you will not want to miss this free online meeting. Space for the webinar is limited. Advance registration is required and can be found at . After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Registrations for the event will be accepted until  11:30 AM on Nov 17, 2017,  or until all available participant connections are taken.

Featured presenters on November 17 will be:

Marcy Hamilton, SWMPC, focusing on Septic System Ordinances and examples from the ML&SA Tool Kit web page

Chuck Olson, Omm Engineering, talking about regional sewer systems, especially in lake areas

Paul Sniadecki, ML&SA Board Director, will cover statutory requirements for municipalities to prevent sewage contamination in water, and the impact of the MI Supreme Court decision in the Worth Township matter

For more information contact: Monica Day, Extension Educator – Water Resources, Michigan State University Extension 517-768-2046 (office), 517-604-9500 (cell); or Paul J. Sniadecki, ML&SA Board Director, 269-329-8320


Michigan Senate to Consider Regulating “No Greater Than the Feds,” Hand Over Protection of Clean Air and Water to Trump Administration

October 6, 2017 12:26

by Mitch Barrows
Freshwater Future Policy Associate

The Michigan state House voted in May 57 to 50 in favor of a bill (HB‐4205) designed to restrict the ability of state agencies to create regulatory rules that are stronger than federal standards. If passed by the state Senate and signed by Governor Snyder, this bill may end up as the most consequential Michigan environmental law in decades, impacting efforts to prevent invasive species, keep our drinking water clean, and more.

Under the potential law, the directors of executive agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality would face an additional burden of proving “a clear and convincing need” to exceed the federal standard. Agencies would be required to prepare and present “impact statement[s],” which are notably required to emphasize the “cost of compliance” for businesses rather than potential public benefits and positive impacts.

With Scott Pruitt as EPA Director, federal environmental regulations will undoubtedly erode. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times over the agency’s Clean Power Plan, Clean Water Rule, and established limits on mercury, methane, and ozone pollution. Pruitt’s EPA has already reversed 23 environmental regulations in its first 100 days, and President Trump has further committed to rolling back two administrative rules for every new rule enacted.

Representative Triston Cole (R‐Mancelona) of the 105th House district (Charlevoix, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, and Oscoda counties) introduced the bill, claiming that the legislation would serve as a ‘check’ on the regulatory system. But if passed, this bill would surrender the security of Michigan’s natural resources to a federal administration working against efforts to safeguard land and water resources that are essential to our economy and way of life.

Federal regulations are baseline protections developed for watersheds and habitats ranging from the Alaskan arctic to the Arizona desert; they are not meant to be comprehensive. The Great Lakes holds twenty percent of the world’s fresh water, and harbors thousands of specialized watersheds. Stewardship of Michigan’s unique and priceless natural resources requires stable, attentive, and proactive management. House bill 4205 is antithetical to Michigan values and our nation’s decentralized system of government, and would hamstring those in power charged with resource conservation.

Visit‐greater‐than‐the‐feds to find your state Senator and tell them to vote NO on “No Greater Than the Feds.”

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