A cleaner Lake Macatawa begins with Project Clarity's work at Paw Paw Foot Bridge in Zeeland

Too many sediments and nutrients in Lake Macatawa is an ongoing problem, making the lake in downtown Holland less able to produce natural plants for food and habitat for its fish, and depleting the lake of the oxygen fish need to survive.

A small project by Project Clarity and Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODCMG) is underway to shore up the banks of Noordeloos Creek near the Paw Paw Foot Bridge at 104th St. and Chicago Drive in Zeeland. It's the first of five similar projects this summer on several of Lake Macatawa's tributaries to reduce the amount of sediments and nutrients flowing into the lake.

"The nutrients can cause algae blooms, and sediments, which are very fine clay and silt, suspends in water easily and blocks the sun from being able to reach the bottom, which prevents plants growing on the bed of the lake," says Dan Callam, watershed technician for ODCMG. "When the algae die, it sucks the oxygen out of the water, which can lead to a lot of fish kills because they no longer have the oxygen they need. These two things together have led to a very degraded state of the lake."

The water is safe for human contact, Callam says, but continuous degradation of the lake habitat needs to be stopped to keep the lake alive. In addition, continued erosion of the Noordeloos Creek bank by the footbridge threatens the stability of the bridge.

Niswander Environmental, DeSal Excavating, and engineers from the City of Zeeland worked with ODCMG to design the excavation and rebuilding of a 30-ft.-wide, 300-ft.-long swath of the stream bank near the footbridge, then filled in with several 12" to 18" boulders to eliminate erosion. Volunteers will add native plants later this summer.

The five projects together will cost about $1 million. Project Clarity has raised about $5.5 million of its $12 million goal to improve Lake Macatawa's water clarity by 70 percent in the next five years.

To donate to the Project Clarity, click here. To volunteer, click here.  

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Project Clarity, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
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