Research shows Muskegon Lake water quality continues to improve

Researchers at the Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) at Grand Valley State University have released a new report that indicates the water quality of Muskegon Lake continues to improve, and is meeting desirable criteria in three of four key water quality indicators. 

The results are reported on the AWRI annual water quality dashboard, which is part of the Muskegon Lake Long-Term Monitoring program. The dashboard provides an at-a-glance representation of conditions in the lake, and historical data are also included to demonstrate water quality changes over time.

AWRI scientists have been monitoring the status of Muskegon Lake since 2003, when community philanthropists, led by W.G. Jackson, started an endowment fund at the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. Distributions from this fund, combined with additional grants from the Alcoa Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Fremont Area Community Foundation, have allowed faculty members, staff and students to obtain consistent, long-term data on Muskegon Lake. 

The information is used to assess the short- and long-term health of the lake, which in turn has helped the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. EPA determine if the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern is meeting its restoration targets. The goal is to remove Muskegon Lake from the Great Lakes Area of Concern within five years.  

“I’m not certain what is more impressive — the dramatic improvement in Muskegon Lake water quality since the early 1970s, or the incredible generosity of the community in helping support these very important research initiatives,” said Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute.

The monitoring data were enhanced four years ago, when the U.S. EPA granted AWRI more than $500,000 to install the Muskegon Lake Monitoring Observatory, which is a buoy that generates real-time data on the lake throughout the ice-free season. Led by Bopi Biddanda, a researcher and faculty member at AWRI, the data generated by the buoy are giving scientists a much deeper understanding of the Muskegon Lake functions.  

Visit: www.gvsu.edu/wri/director/dashboard to view the 2014 dashboard update. 

Visit: www.gvsu.edu/wri/buoy/ to learn more about the buoy.