Monitoring Projects, 2001-2015

2015 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Project:
ECCSCM's 2015 Water Monitoring Project began in April, with sampling at 8 sites near 4 CAFOs. All sites are in western River Raisin or eastern Bean Cr watersheds, and all these waters flow to Lake Erie. Test results from the sampling on 4-20-15 show two sites of serious concern: Rice Lake Dr at Haley Rd, and Deline Dr Ext at Tomer Rd - both near Hoffland Dairy CAFO facility and/or manure application fields. Water samples from these 2 sites violated Michigan's water quality standards for E. coli (5,900/100mL at Rice Lake Drain; 2,100/100mL at Deline Dr Ext); and both also tested extremely high in Nitrate, Phosphate (PO4), and Ammonia. In fact, EVERY SITE tested extremely high in Phosphate (PO4), the dissolved phosphorus implicated in the toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. Water sampling crew on 8-12-15 found dead fish floating in Rice Lake Drain. This site has long history of pollution – see E. coli contamination data (2002-2015), as well as documentation in 2004 of the pathogen Cryptosporidium at this site by MSU and international Cryptosporidium researcher Dr Joan Rose.
Total data through Aug 12, 2015
2015 Quality Assurance Plan
ricelakedr1 dead fis
4-20-15 - Rice Lake Drain, with E. coli count of 5,900/100mL; and 8-12-15 - Dead fish floating in Rice Lake Dr.

2014 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects:
Hazen Creek/South Branch River Raisin Monitoring Project started in April 2014, with seasonal monitoring at six sites northwest of Adrian in Lenawee County, an intensive livestock production area. We're testing water at 3 sites in Hazen Creek, the major tributary of the South Branch of the River Raisin; and 3 sites in the South Branch itself. We test for E. coli, Dissolved Oxygen, as well as Nitrate and Nitrite, Ammonia, and Phosphate, the nutrients that feed harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The site of greatest concern so far is #18, Hazen Creek at Plank Rd, downstream from Halliwill and New Flevo CAFOs, with high E. coli counts on both 6-23-14 and 9-9-14. Also in June and September samplings, this site, and all sites, had extremely high nutrient levels.
See total data for 2014.
2014 Quality Assurance Plan
9-9-14 - Hazen Creek at Plank Rd, E. coli count of 1,100/100mL (1,400/100mL on 6-23-14).

Bean Creek Watershed
Spot Monitoring Project began in May 2014 at various sites draining new (unpopulated) Milk Source CAFO facilities and manure application fields. We test for E. coli and Dissolved Oxygen. Some manure application did occur during spring 2014 as old lagoons were emptied. On May 6, some degradation of Medina Drain was visible, with water discolored and scummy, no fish visible. The highest E. coli test so far at Medina Drain was June 19, after manure/waste application June 17, and heavy rain June 18, with E. coli >2,419/100mL (sample was tested at Adrian Water Plant, using the IDEXX process, which measures no higher than 2,419/100mL).
See test results so far.
medina down medina up
5-6-14 - Medina Drain downstream at culvert (left), and upstream (right).

013 Water Monitoring Projects:

At-Risk Streams Monitoring (Lime Lake Inlet, Medina Drain)– Bean/Tiffin Watershed
Both Lime Lake Inlet and Medina Drain are on Michigan's 303(d) list of impaired waters. Medina Drain was placed on the impaired list after multiple manure discharges from liquid manure field application. Both streams drain ex-Vreba-Hoff CAFO facilities and fields that were foreclosed and shut down in 2010-2011.

While Medina Drain, in particular, has shown real recovery since the shutdown (see video of minnows in Medina Dr, Sept 2013), these streams are again at risk, with new owner Milk Source LLC set to begin operation and ship in cows, beginning Spring 2014.
(See photos THEN and NOW below; and for a 2-page album of the Vreba-Hoff years, see all pollution photos of Medina Dr)

To compare total data from this 2013 water monitoring project to the project 10 years ago (2001-2003), click these links:
Medina Drain total data
Lime Lake Inlet total data

MEDINA DRAIN, INGALL HWY .... 2002-2010, with Vreba-Hoff CAFO facility & lagoons, manure application upstream:
2002 meddr med
Medina Drain, from left: green with algae, July 2002; brown scum, March 27, 2003 - E. coli 15,800/100ml; red discoloration, June 12, 2003- E. coli 17,820/100ml.

And now, 2011 -2013, without CAFO or manure application:
clear2013 fish2013 cleaerwater
Medina Drain 2013, from left: clear water; minnows in Medina Dr, Sept 4, 2013 (see video below); and.water sample, clear, Sept 24, 2013 (DO 8.6mg/L; E. coli 720/100ml).

Wolf Creek Water Monitoring Project – River Raisin Watershed

Download total test results here.
In 2013, ECCSCM began a water monitoring project at 7 sites in Wolf Creek and its tributaries (River Raisin Watershed) northwest of Adrian. Already on Michigan's 303(d) list of impaired waters because of E. coli contamination, this stream is the main inlet flowing into Lake Adrian, the City of Adrian's drinking water reservoir.

Wolf Creek and its tributaries drain the manure-application fields of 3 CAFOs as well as other livestock operations, including Warner Farms, recently expanded to almost CAFO-size. The 3 CAFOs – Halliwill, New Flevo, and Terrehaven – are the three largest CAFOs in the area. Since the shutdown in 2010-2011 of the Vreba-Hoff CAFOs near Hudson, these 3 CAFOs northwest of Adrian hold around 60% of all the CAFO dairy animals in the area.

Test results showed serious E. coli contamination at several locations, especially Fisk Cr on Teachout Rd, where water quality violated Michigan's Water Standard for E. coli in every sample. At this site, Fisk Creek opens up from underground tile at the edge of a Warner Farms field, and is a literal headwater of the stream, of the River Raisin, and of Lake Erie. The highest E. coli results of the Monitoring Project were in Fisk Cr (11,000/100ml on Sept 16, 2013 and 4,900/100ml on June 17, 2013).

Black Creek on Wolf Creek Rd is another site of serious concern, and also Turner Drain on Tipton Hwy, which registered periodic E. coli contamination, 4,600/100ml on Nov 19, 2013, possibly the impact of manure applications upstream. These sites are downstream of several manure-application fields of Terrehaven CAFO.

Update: Nov 8, 2013- 7 Violations - DEQ cited Terrehaven CAFO, Wolf Cr Hwy near Adrian, for multiple violations, including contaminated runoff from the feed storage and barns flowing into an undocumented “temporary holding pond,”contaminated runoff from the production area flowing “east toward an open field” and “west toward an open field, and eventually to a small pond,” clean stormwater from several buildings contaminated with production area waste. Woody vegetation was growing on the berms of the wastewater lagoon, which "can compromise the integrity of the lagoon liner by root penetration.”
(details from DEQ Violation Notice of Nov. 8, 2013. See more information on our Violations list)
terrehaven1 terrehaven2
8-29-13 - Terrehaven with waste heaped, seeping, and (close-up, photo taken from opposite angle) flowing into a black manure pool.

Phosphorus levels were high at all monitoring sites, but especially at Fisk Cr, Black Cr, and Turner Drain. With the toxic algae crisis in Lake Erie linked to excess phosphorus, much of it from agricultural run-off and field-tile drainage, the pressure is on to change manure and fertilizer practices in all the western Lake Erie watersheds.

The Wolf Creek Watershed project monitored for E. coli, Dissolved Oxygen, Nitrate, Nitrite, Phosphorus, Ammonia, testing quarterly at 7 sites. Read our Quality Assurance Plan, for more details about equipment and data analysis and reporting.

fisk turner
From left, 3-11-13, Fisk Cr, where it opens from underground tile as headwater stream; 11-19-13 - ECCSCM Volunteer sampling at Turner Drain, Tipton Hwy, a tributary of Wolf Creek just upstream from Lake Adrian, the City of Adrian's drinking water supply. E. coli bacteria tested that day at 4900/100ml, more than 4 times the Michigan water standard for partial body contact.

2011 Water Monitoring Project (DO, E. coli)
In this follow-up to the Water Monitoring Project 10 years ago, ECCSCM re-tested some of the same sites for Dissolved Oxygen and E. coli bacteria. Some agencies tell us practices have improved, the bad actors are gone. But the Summer 2011 test results don’t support that. The E. coli bacteria count at one site on July 12 was 52,000/100ml – 52 times Michigan's water standard of 1,000/100ml OR LESS for partial body contact.

See total data, 5 sites, beginning July 12, 2011.

2006 Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring
Does partial waste treatment improve water quality near CAFOs?  Not yet.  Not at all. 

In 2004, Vreba-Hoff was sued by the State of Michigan after multiple and repeated manure discharges and violations. In 2005, the settlement of this suit required Vreba-Hoff to install a partial waste treatment system, separating manure liquids and solids. Solids must be composted, but the partially treated liquid is mixed with untreated, and contaminated, silage leachate and facility washwater. This contaminated liquid is then "irrigated" onto fields. This waste, as liquid as water now, has the potential to move quickly to drainage tiles and to streams. The settlement required no water monitoring downstream. 

"Partial" treatment is the key -- the liquid applied to fields is still contaminated with high levels of nutrients (Phosphorus, nitrates), which lowers Dissolved Oxygen in streams.  Lake Erie's new "dead zone" has recently been linked to Phosphorus runoff from livestock waste.

In January 2006, before liquid separation/irrigation began, ECCSCM sampled 6 streams that originate on and drain only Vreba-Hoff property. The winter baseline data showed no violation of Michigan's water quality standard for DO. The DO monitoring has continued through spring and summer.

Since the spray-irrigation of fields has begun, two sites have shown immediate and serious degradation of water quality.  Dissolved Oxygen levels plummeted in Medina Drain, first in April and again in June; Durfee Creek has violated Michigan Water Quality Standards for DO in every sampling since April 19, 2006. To meet water standards, DO must be 5 mg/L or higher; less than 3 mg/L deprives aquatic life of oxygen and fish can die.  Durfee Creek DO levels in the last 4 samplings have been: 3.6 mg/L, 2.4 mg/L, 3.4 mg/L, and on June 8, 2006, 1.3 mg/L.

Photos show intolerable levels of Dissolved Oxygen in two streams draining Vreba-Hoff fields. Aquatic life cannot survive.

Durfee Cr (left) and Medina Dr (right), June 8, 2006. These site
s are immediately downstream from travel irrigators.
See total data of the DO monitoring
in progress.

Summer 2004 Mussel Survey
A survey of freshwater mussels in Bean Creek Watershed was conducted in Summer, 2004, by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, a program of Michigan State University. Some stream stretches were rich with mussel species; sites in one stream -- Silver Creek -- had no live mussels at all, indicating serious degradation of water quality.  See more details, photos.

2001 - 2003 Water Monitoring Project – E. coli, Dissolved Oxygen
In response to CAFO pollution in the Hudson area, residents formed Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM). Volunteers began periodic water monitoring in the Bean Creek Watershed in the summer of 2001. In January 2002, ECCSCM received a Community Action Grant from Sierra Club for more extensive monitoring of streams and drains adjacent to CAFOs. Since then, volunteers have sampled 79 sites, more than 400 water samples. The project tests for Dissolved Oxygen, which is critical for healthy aquatic life, and for E. coli bacteria, an indicator for risks to human health.

After two years of sampling, monitoring has documented that liquid manure moves through underground field tiles and contaminates our streams. The project has shown increasingly low DO levels in several waterways, jeopardizing aquatic life. Many sampling sites downstream from CAFOs show serious bacterial contamination whenever liquid manure is applied, but especially in spring thaws and in fall after crops have been harvested and waste is applied heavily.

See Water Monitoring Project Summary page with Total Data
(also Summary letter to legislators and state agencies, Sept. 1, 2003)

Volunteers sampling a wetland adjacent to CAFO

2004 Air Monitoring
In 2004, ECCSCM began monitoring air quality adjacent to CAFOs and to fields with liquid manure application.  CAFOs are major sources of air emissions that can jeopardize neighbors downwind of the facility and of manure-application fields.  Aquatic ecosystems also suffer, as ammonia settles out of air into streams and lakes. ECCSCM uses a hand-held Draeger Micro-pak digital hydrogen sulfide meter.

Hydrogen sulfide meter, at 3 ppm, 1 mile from CAFO