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Updated watershed plan for Thunder Bay set in motion

 The Alpena Light stands on the Alpena Harbor between Lake Huron and the Thunder Bay River.
Corey Seeman
The Alpena Light stands on the Alpena Harbor between Lake Huron and the Thunder Bay River.

The state is awarding a $200,000 grant to help reduce pollution and protect the Thunder Bay River Watershed.

The watershed and its nearby coastal areas are relatively clean and healthy, with high water quality... Environmental advocates hope to keep it that way and say an updated watershed plan will help do just that.

Amy Nowakowski is with Huron Pines, the nonprofit receiving the grant. She said the new watershed plan will focus on targeting nonpoint pollution – like leaking septic systems and fertilizer runoff.

“Everyone that lives here and recreates here, we all can play a role in protecting the water," Nowakowski said. "Another part of the watershed management plan is to look at priority areas - places that are more pristine that we really want to focus on protection and restoration efforts.”

Nowakowski said the current watershed plan is almost ten years old, and it no longer reflects the region.

“Things change on the ground over time, so updating the plans is really important," she said. "we have new information, and we can appropriately address any potential threats to water quality."

Nowakowksi said the next step is to work with key community members and collect data on the watershed.

After it’s completed, the watershed plan will need to be approved by the state and the EPA. If approved, the plan will qualify the region for more funding for water quality projects.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.