Environmental Effects of Stormwater Runoff to Little Black Creek

Runoff from US 31

Little Black Creek (LBC) is one of the major tributaries in the Mona Lake Watershed, a small, heavily impacted basin in west Michigan that connects directly to Lake Michigan. Due to industrial activities in the previous century, the sediments in LBC are heavily contaminated, and represent both an ecological and human health risk to the region. Contaminated sediments can pose a limited risk to human and environmental health if they remain in place and are covered with stable layers of clean sediment. However, data collected over the past several years clearly indicate that these toxic sediments are moving downstream and that the problem is not localized. One of the major reasons for sediment movement is water run-off from the highly concentrated road network in this region.

Although we know that stormwater run-off from the highly concentrated road network is resulting in environmental degradation in the LBC basin, it is not known which roads and associated storm drains are most responsible for these impacts. Our goal is to determine the extent of environmental impairment caused by road-induced runoff, and the associated industrial activities in the basin, so that the appropriate restoration and remediation activities can be implemented. This will be accomplished through the following:

  • Identification of run-off locations at the road-stream crossings of US 31/Seaway Drive and Little Black Creek
  • Characterization of the water quality and quantity of runoff from US 31 and Seaway Drive to Little Black Creek
  • Toxicity assessment of the runoff water
  • Changes in geomorphology of Little Black Creek, with special attention to streambank erosion and movement of sediments associated with runoff events
  • Impacts of runoff on biota, using bioassays and controlled experiments
  • Engineering assessment of retrofits to minimize the erosive potential associated with increased runoff volumes and velocities from US 31 and Seaway Drive
  • An information and education component
  • A final report

Funded by: The U.S. Department of Transportation


A Study of Surface Run-off from U.S. 31 and Seaway Drive on Little Black Creek, Muskegon County, MI

Principal Investigator - Alan Steinman ( steinmaa@gvsu.edu)
Water Chemistry - Rick Rediske ( redisker@gvsu.edu)
Biotic Assessment - Carl Ruetz ( ruetzc@gvsu.edu); Don Uzarski ( uzarsidg@cmich.edu)
Sampling - Mary Ogdahl ( ogdahlm@gvsu.edu)