PZC GLRI Current Project: 2012-2014
Shiawassee River and Flint River Watershed
The purpose of this project is to significantly improve the effectiveness of efforts to restore, remediate or prevent future negative impacts to Great Lakes water quality by partnership projects initiated by local governments and watershed-based conservation organizations. These two entities are, by far, the most important when it comes to designing and implementing measures to restore or protect water quality at the local level. Yet, successful interaction between these stakeholder groups varies dramatically from watershed to watershed, and even from project to project within a watershed. Unfortunately, without strong partnerships between these two key groups of stakeholders, common goals of protecting water quality are hard to achieve and may take much longer than is desirable.
This project involves analyzing and better understanding:
- The existing roles and responsibilities, capacities and limitations of local governments and conservation organizations in the context of protecting water quality;
- What motivates individuals and organizations to work cooperatively and collaboratively in pursuit of common goals;
- How to spot, secure, nurture and support local leadership; and
- How to provide citizens and stakeholders with considerably more simple-to-access information in forms that are easy to use and understand in order to stimulate their participation in and support of water quality protection and remediation efforts.
The Project Team is comprised of the Planning & Zoning Center at MSU, the Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC), and the Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR). Each Team partner brings a unique set of skills to the project, knowledge about water quality stewardship, and ability to connect and engage a wide range of stakeholders. The PZC is specifically working with these local partners to maximize the expertise and resources of organizations already operating in the watershed.
The FRWC is the leading community-based advocate for clean water resources in the Flint River Watershed. It promotes efforts to protect, preserve, and improve the Flint River and its tributaries through partnership, public education, scientific projects, and community involvement. The Flint River Watershed is dominated by a large city and suburbs, but also has considerable farmland.
The FOSR is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the environment, promoting the responsible use and enhancing the appreciation of the Shiawassee River. The FOSR has formed partnerships with other organizations who are working to protect the environment, as well as local governments in the watershed. The FOSR serves a predominately rural watershed through a wide variety of events including, river clean-up days, tree plantings, and many others.
Project Study Areas
Map: Shiawassee River and Flint River Watershed
Source: Planning & Zoning Center, Land Policy Institute, Michigan State University, 2013.
Flint is redefining itself for a more sustainable future by creating its first master plan in 50 years. The master plan addresses the fundamental needs of all people and is designed to protect the land, water, air and energy resources in the city. The City is preparing to adapt and utilize its natural resources to rebuild its neighborhoods, local economy and better connect to global markets.
The Planning and Zoning Center is working with the Flint River Watershed Coalition to engage low income and minority populations in Flint and start building support from neighborhood organizations for water quality and river protection efforts. The team is focusing on three water bodies in the City—Flint Park Lake, Thread Lake and the . All of the lakes are underutilized assets that have a real potential for change.
Map: Three Lakes in the City of Flint - Flint Park Lake, Thread Lake, Kearsely Reservoir
Source: Planning & Zoning Center, Land Policy Institute, Michigan State University, 2013.
Flint Park Lake, also known by residents as Devil’s Lake, is located in the Northwest quadrant of the City of Flint. The site was once the location of an amusement park, which operated from 1921-1961. The site featured roller coasters, a beer garden and many other recreational and community assets. The lake is 19 acres in surface area and is located in a residential area.
The USEPA conducted water quality testing on the Brent Run River and Streams ) in 2006, 2008 and 2010. They found “Fish Consumption” to be an impaired use in all three tests, resulting in the stream being deemed “impaired.” Additionally, in 2008 the “Other Indigenous Aquatic Life” use tested as “impaired,” however, it was “good” in 2006 and 2010. These are the closest water quality tests to Flint Park Lake.
Flint Park Lake received a $151,787 Phase II grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the development of a boat ramp, parking lot and picnic facilities. It is located on the Northeast corner of the lake.
Photo: Flint Park Lake
Source: Jason Cox, MSU Planning & Zoning Center, 2013.
A Vision for Flint Park Lake and Adjoining Neighborhoods Released
The Planning & Zoning Center team partnered with community leaders to host multiple community engagement efforts in the neighborhoods surrounding Flint Park Lake in Flint, MI. The resulting input, feedback and insight from the community has been compiled into a Vision document, released in June 2014, for the neighborhoods that complements existing efforts in the area and the larger Flint Master Plan. The Vision was produced as a result of partnerships with the City of Flint Planning Department and residents from the Flint Park Lake area neighborhoods.
More Information on Flint Park Lake
- Flint Park Lake Summary Flyer
- Flint Park Lake Citizens District Council Redevelopment Plan, Adopted 2002
- Historic Photos of Flint Park Lake and Amusement Park
Thread Lake was created when the Thread Lake Dam was built in the 1880s on Thread Creek, in Southeast Flint. For many years after the dam was built, it was the site of Flint’s first amusement park, with many water-based activities. The current dam was constructed in 1973. At normal levels, the lake covers approximately 78 acres and it drains an area of 62.9 square miles. The Thread Lake Dam is nine feet high with a length of 293 feet. The maximum discharge is 1,800 cubic feet per second and its capacity is 1,250 acre feet.
The USEPA conducted water quality assessments for Thread Lake in 2004, 2006 and 2008. In all the testing years polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in fish and the use was deemed “impaired.” The probable source contributing to the impairment was atmospheric deposition—toxics. Additionally, the EPA tested and found agriculture, industrial water supply and navigation are all good uses.
While about a third of the lake is choked with vegetation, and there are concerns that dumping of toxics decades ago contribute to degraded water quality, the aesthetic of a natural environment with few structures in the middle of a large urban city points to an unparalleled and underutilized resource. Three neighborhoods surround the lake and all stand to benefit substantially if water quality were improved, recreation facilities were modernized, walking and biking trails were installed, and a long term management plan were created that directly involved the neighborhoods.
Photo: Thread Lake
Source: Jacqueline Spry, 2013.
A Vision for Thread Lake and Adjoining Neighborhoods Released
The Planning & Zoning Center team partnered with community leaders to host multiple community engagement efforts in the neighborhoods surrounding Thread Lake in Flint, MI. The resulting input, feedback and insight from the community has been compiled into a Vision document, released in June 2014, for the neighborhoods that complements existing efforts in the area and the larger Flint Master Plan. The Vision was produced as a result of partnerships with the Flint River Watershed Coalition, the South Saginaw Task Force, the City of Flint Planning Department and a multitude other neighborhood organizations and stakeholders.
More Information on Thread Lake
- Photos of Thread Lake in the 1920s
- Find Lakes: Thread Lake, East Michigan
- Planners Web: Not Giving Up on Flint - Part II
- Mlive.com: “Two Flint Dams in Need of Repairs-Yesterday”
The Kearsley Reservoir is approximately 155 acres and is owned by the City of Flint; it is located primarily in the Southeast corner of Genesee County with the watershed residing within portions of both Oakland and Lapeer counties. The Reservoir was created when the Kearsley Dam was constructed on the Kearsley Creek, in 1929. It was created as a water supply source for City residents and still serves as a backup water supply. The dam is 33 feet high and 450 feet long. The maximum discharge is 7,860 cubic feet/second. Its capacity is 3,250 acre feet, while its normal storage is 2,000 acre feet. It drains an area of 115 square miles.
In 2006, the Kearsley Creek Watershed Management Plan was prepared. According to the report, the Kearsley reservoir is a warm water fishery. Bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, brown bullhead, yellow bull head, white sucker and common carp are the primary species found in the creek and reservoir. There is also a self-sustaining channel catfish population found solely in the Reservoir.
Challenges and Opportunities for the Neighborhoods Surrounding Kearsley Reservoir
The Planning & Zoning Center, in collaboration with the Flint River Watershed Coalition, has established a foundation for future planning efforts around Kearsley Reservoir in Flint, MI, in the publication entitled: “Environmental and Development Challenges and Opportunities for Kearsley Reservoir and the Adjoining Neighborhoods.” The document outlines the current conditions around Kearsley Reservoir, the political and geographical challenges, as well as a proposed process to a create a common vision.
More information on Kearsley Reservoir
- Find Lakes: Kearsley Dam, East Michigan
- 2006 Kearsley Creek Watershed Management Plan
- 2008 UREPA Waterbody Report for Kearsley Reservoir