Water Sampling Data

Monitoring Projects – 2001-2018

2018 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects
2017 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects
2016 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects
2015 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Project
2014 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects
2013 Water Monitoring Projects
2011 Water Monitoring Projects
2006 Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring
Summer 2004 Mussel Survey
2001 – 2003 Water Monitoring Project
2004 Air Monitoring


ECCSCM’s monitoring project results for 8.17.17, attached. Results in bold on the attached worksheet exceed (or in the case of dissolved oxygen, fall below) either Michigan’s water quality standards, or EPA-recommended maximum levels. 


ECCSCM conducts two different types of water monitoring, at 49 different sites in 21 townships, within a 24 x 24 mile (roughly 576 square miles) test bed that stretches from eastern Hillsdale County to mid-Lenawee County and from the Jackson/Hillsdale/Lenawee county lines at the north to the Ohio state line at the south. One type of sampling we do is traditional stream sampling, where sites are sampled to see what is happening at that particular location at that particular time. The other type of sampling is edge-of-tile-pipe, edge-of-field sampling that is done to identify sources & amounts coming from a specific manure application field, and this is done to identify possible violations of the Clean Water Act under the NPDES CAFO permit or violations of other State and Federal statutes. 

This particular project was a stream sampling that took place on 8.17.17. Our goal was to check E. coli and nutrient levels within known livestock-housed areas, to see if cyanobacteria and/or microcystin were present in tributary waters (Raisin/Lake Erie) and to identify DNA sources. We are limited by funds, so we plan to do sites in the Bean/Tiffin watershed next year. In the future, we plan to do more targeted DNA analysis. 

Sites tested were in the northern half of the South Branch Raisin Watershed that lies within Lenawee County, including some sites in the Wolf Creek, plus the Bear Creek sub-watersheds in the main branch of the Raisin. The sites chosen for this round were based on their potential impact from CAFO waste. Michigan NPDES CAFO-permitted farms either located in, or applying manure, in this project area include Terrehaven, Halliwill, New Flevo, Hartland, Bakerlads, Hoffland, and Warner Farms’ non-permitted dairy confinement facility. Satellite barns and CAFO feeder facilities are also located in this area, and there is a pastured-livestock operation where animals have unobstructed access to Wolf Creek immediately upstream from Loch Erin. One or more MAEAP best management practices are used at the majority of manure application fields. 

Method – E. coli samples are collected as grab samples, and are delivered on ice to the MDEQ drinking water lab in Lansing for analysis (Counts 10 – 1,000,000) within 6 hours after collection. Hach test strips are used to test for nutrients, and a YSI DO meter, calibrated before each use, is used to record dissolved oxygen levels and water temperature. Samples for DNA/cyanobacteria/microcystin analysis are collected as grab samples and sent to Helix Biolab. 

Of note: 

DNA – ECCSCM began DNA testing at one site (Lime Lake) in 2015, after residents spotted “green slime” in this lake, which is immediately downstream from both a dairy and a swine CAFO. DNA testing for cattle, swine, and human DNA markers continued through 2016 and 2017. There are no swine CAFOs in the region tested for this project. Our objective in this project was just to test for the presence or absence of cattle DNA; we did not check for other species, so we did not do a comparative analysis. Cattle DNA and cyanobacteria were found in the samples at all 7 sites, and microcystin was found at 3 sites – #48 (Loch Erin at Shannon Park), #49 (Black Creek at Brazee Rd.,) and #24 (Rice Lake Drain on Haley Rd.) 

E. coli – 5 of the 7 sites tested exceed the E. coli standard of 1,000/100 mL for partial body contact. Only Sites No. 27 ( Bear Cr. at Lake Hudson Inlet) and No. 24 (Rice Lake Drain on Haley Rd.) are outside the S. Branch Raisin, E. coli TMDL reach of 130/100 mL from May 1, through October 31 (TMDL issued June, 2008, see map below). Of the five sites within the TMDL reach, the E. coli result for only one site (No. 48, Loch Erin) was below 130/100mL. The remaining 4 sites (No. 49, Black Cr. at Brazee Rd.; No. 4 Black Creek at Wolf Creek Hwy.; No. 18 Hazen Cr. on Plank Rd.; No. 15 S. Branch/Raisin on Cadmus Rd.) far exceeded the 130/100 mL TMDL limit, with No. 18, Hazen Creek on Plank Rd. the highest at 2,600 mg/L. Since 2013, sampling results at these sites have shown similar, consistent, high E. coli levels. For reference – public beaches are generally closed when E. coli counts exceed 130/100 mL. 

Nitrates/nitrites – We did not find excessive nitrates or nitrites at any of these sites. We have observed stable/slightly decreasing levels of nitrates over the past several years, with occasional spikes. 

Orthophosphate – The results at all sites continue to be alarmingly high. They have continued to rise or stay at the same high levels, across the board, since our last samplings in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, at these sites. Using the Hach test strip for PO-4 and converting to P (*.3262), Total P results range from 1.631 at No. 48 Loch Erin to 9.786 at No. 24 Rice Lake Drain, with the rest all at 4.893 mg/L. As you can see on the information about key sampling parameters on the attached spreadsheet, levels in natural streams are between .05 and .10 mg/L; levels above .10 are of concern, where fish kill can start to happen. Michigan has no standards for nutrients from non-point sources, but the standard for total phosphorus from point source (i.e., wastewater treatment plant) discharge is 1.0 mg/L. In comparison, our results far exceed that standard. 

Ammonia – We found high levels of ammonia at all sites, with 1.0 mg/L at Site No. 15, S. Branch on Cadmus Road. Ammonia in natural streams, with normal aquatic life, does not usually exceed .10 mg/L; anything above that indicates additional input and may cause fish kill. The sample at Cadmus Rd. was also more discolored than any of the others (light yellow/brown), and it had a faint ammonia/chemical odor. 

Observations: Rice Lake Drain had a significant amount of duckweed and vegetation, much more so than other locations. 

Time considerations prevented us from getting DO and temperature readings on 8.17.2017. 

E. coli TMDL area map; included area in blue: 


Results for Testing August 2017 (PDF will open in new window)

2016 ECCSCM Water Monitoring Projects:

7/18/2016: 2nd Round of water sampling by ECCSCM volunteers

ECCSCM’s monitoring project results for this year, so far. Results in bold are above (or in the case of dissolved oxygen, below) either Michigan’s water quality standards, or EPA-recommended maximum levels.

E. coli samples are collected as grab samples, and are delivered on ice to the MDEQ drinking water lab in Lansing for analysis (Counts 10 – 1,000,000) within 6 hours after collection.  Hach test strips are used to test for nutrients, and a YSI DO meter, calibrated before each use, is used to record dissolved oxygen levels and water temperature.

All sites tested had E. coli levels far higher than the maximum E. coli count for total body contact of 130/100mL.

Two sites tested are within the boundaries of an E. coli TMDL.  Site No. 42, Deline Drain, lies within the South Branch, Raisin, TMDL dated May, 2008 (attached, with map), which includes a limit of 130/100mL as a 30-day geometric mean and 300/100mL as a daily maximum from May to October, had an E. coli count of 16,000/100mL on July 18, 2016.  This particular location is also the site of a MDEQ violation for an unpermitted discharge of manure on 4.28.16 (MDEQ violation letter dated June 13, 2016).  Sites No. 9, Lime Lake Inlet on Lime Lake Rd., had an E. coli count of 1,700/100mL on July 18, 2016, and No. 47, Lime Lake Inlet on Elm Rd., had an E. coli count of 1,500/100mL on July 18, 2016.  This site is located in the Lime Creek (Prattville Drain and Lime Lake)  E. coli TMDL dated January, 2003 (attached, with map).  This TMDL limits E. coli to 130/100mL as a 30-day geometric mean from May to October.

Site No. 30, the stormwater drain, tributary to Fisher Lake, continues to be of great concern.  On 7.18.16, ECCSCM found E. coli at 11,000/100mL Of special note is the 1.79 mg/L dissolved oxygen level, exceptionally low for this time of year, which was found at this location, on 4.20.16 and was immediately reported to MDEQ.  Low DO continues to be a problem here, and on 7.18.16 it was 2.86  mg/L.  ECCSCM received a report last month of possible cyanobacteria on Fisher Lake itself, and we immediately reported this to MDEQ as directed for follow-up.

Dissolved oxygen levels were also below the Michigan water quality standard of 5.0 mg/L at several additional sites.  On 4.20.16, the DO level at Site No. 26 Durfee Creek was 4.76 and at Site No. 46, tributary to Lime Cr. on Ingall Hwy., it was 4.97.  On 7.18.16, DO was .79 mg/L at Site No. 46 trib. to Lime Creek and .71 mg/L at Site No. 24 Rice Lake Drain.

E. coli levels above the maximum level for partial body contact of 1,000/100mL were found as follows (in addition to the sites listed above):  7.18.16, No. 36 Shierson Drain – 8,000/100mL; and Site No. 24 Rice Lake Drain – 1,000/100mL.

Excessive nitrate levels at 10 ppm or above were found at 3 sites on 4.20.16 and 3 sites on 7.18.16.  Of special concern is Site No. 36, Shierson Drain, where 50 ppm nitrate was found on both dates.

Ammonia test results at all sites exceed acceptable levels, and No. 36 Shierson Drain and No. 24 Rice Lake Drain were exceptionally high at 5 ppm.

Unfortunately, orthophosphate levels at all tested sites continue to be far too high.  Orthophosphate levels range from 5 to 15 on the test strips, and when converted to Total P by multiplying by .3262, these levels range from 1.631 to 4.893.  Michigan does not have water quality standards for phosphorus for non-point sources, but it is <1 mg/L (ppm) for point sources (industry, municipal wastewater treatment plants).  The safe level for aquatic life is <.05 mg/L, and the danger level is .1 mg/L.   So at the very least, our phosphorus levels are nearly 16 times above the danger level for aquatic life, and at the worst nearly 48 times above it. 

2016: 1st Round of water sampling by ECCSCM volunteers 4/20/2016

ECCSCM volunteers did their first round of water sampling on 4.20.16. Two of these sites (Durfee Cr. Extension and Shierson Drain) were also tested last year on 4.20.15, when very similar results were found. The highest E. coli readings were at Shierson Drain and the Lime Lake Inlet on Elm Rd. We found excessively high nitrate levels at 3 sites: Durfee Cr. Ext., Shierson Dr., and the tributary to Lime Creek on Ingall Hwy. Orthophosphate (PO-4) levels were again high at all sites, at levels consistent with what we find mid-spring. Ammonia was present at all sites at low levels. Of special concern was the dissolved oxygen level of 1.79 (far below the recommended level of 5.0 mg/L). (Anything below 3.0 mg/L in a warm-water stream is too low to sustain fish.) Two other sites, Durfee Cr. Ext. and the tributary to Lime Creek on Ingall, had low dissolved oxygen. In general and in natural conditions, low DO levels are seen later in the summer. We found alarming levels of algae for this time of year at several sites, and bloodworms were found at the outlet to Fisher Lake. See photos.

Durfee Cr., algae already - way too early!

Durfee Cr., algae already – way too early!

Stormwater drain, flows directly from CAFO lagoon to Fisher Lake.  Pink spot is bloodworms, dead bloodworm at lower right. Dissolved oxygen at 1.79 mg/L, too low to sustain fish life; unlikely that bloodworms are able to live for long with DO at that level.  Bloodworms were noted again at that location on 4.21.16.

Stormwater drain, flows directly from CAFO lagoon to Fisher Lake. Pink spot is bloodworms, dead bloodworm at lower right. Dissolved oxygen at 1.79 mg/L, too low to sustain fish life; unlikely that bloodworms are able to live for long with DO at that level. Bloodworms were noted again at that location on 4.21.16.

Wooded area removed, new tile installed in wetland area this location.  Excessive algae for this time of year!

Wooded area removed, new tile installed in wetland area this location. Excessive algae for this time of year!

Water flowing in Shierson Dr., Lenawee County Drain Commission catch basin, located at the edge of a field where manure is applied. Photo shows tile outlet into drain.

Water flowing in Shierson Dr., Lenawee County Drain Commission catch basin, located at the edge of a field where manure is applied. Photo shows tile outlet into drain.

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 internationalCryptosporidium 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 5,900/100mLand 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 15,800/100mlred discoloration, June 12, 2003- E. coli17,820/100ml.

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 runofffrom 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 ourQuality 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 at4900/100ml, 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 higherless 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