Jump to main content.


Deer Lake AOC

Contact Us

U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
Mark Loomis (loomis.mark@epa.gov)
312-886-0406

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Update

The Deer Lake Public Advisory Committee has requested that the State of Michigan and EPA begin the process to remove the final Beneficial Use Impairment: Fish Consumption. Removal of this BUI and completion of the Partridge Creek Diversion are the last steps before the AOC can be delisted.

An AOC technical committee has been formed, made up of staff from state and federal agencies, and the PAC's technical committee. The committee is using delisting criteria based on the 2008Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes AOCs. Summer 2014 is the targeted date for delisting the Deer Lake AOC.

About Deer Lake AOC

Deer Lake is in central Marquette County near Ishpeming, Michigan. The Area of Concern includes

Mercury in Fish

In 1981, the Michigan Department of Community Health discovered that fish in Deer Lake had concentrations of mercury that exceeded the "ban on total consumption." Mercury concentrations in Deer Lake fish also exceeded the mercury levels found in fish from similar lakes at that time.

There were two known industrial sources of mercury to the Deer Lake AOC.

In 1987, Deer Lake was declared an Area of Concern and the first remedial action plan document was completed.

Prior restoration projects

Some significant restoration efforts took place before Deer Lake was declared an AOC.

Beneficial Use Impairments

Top of page

Beneficial Use Impairments

Top of page

Restoring the Deer Lake AOC

Partridge Creek Diversion Project

The Partridge Creek diversion project began in 2011 in an effort to eliminate a major source of mercury entering Deer Lake.

Completion of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Partridge Creek diversion will support removal of the fish consumption BUI through reductions in mercury loading to Deer Lake. The project will:

Beginning in 2010, EPA awarded the City of Ishpeming a total of $8 million dollars from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to complete the project.  The City of Ishpeming also contributed $700,000 to the project. 

Before the diversion project, Partridge Creek flowed into the New York pit mine east of the City of Ishpeming. Clean freshwater entered the mine pit, but became contaminated with mercury as it flowed through the mine workings under the city. The water was discharged on the west side of the city from Partridge Creek into Carp Creek, and then into Deer Lake, where it raised mercury concentrations.

The goal of the project is to prevent mercury from entering Deer Lake by diverting Partridge Creek through historic streambeds and closed culverts, located above the mines where contamination occurs.

Phase 1

The first phase of the project was completed in October 2012. This upstream portion of the project created 0.5 mi of closed culvert and 0.2 mi of open stream.

Phase 2

Phase 2 began in summer 2013 and involves constructing the downstream portion of the creek diversion project. The diversion structure will be finished in November 2013. This part of the project will complete the construction of 0.5 mi of closed culvert and a 0.7 mi of open stream, as well as construct over 1.3 acres of wetlands. The second phase of the Partridge Creek Diversion project is funded by a $6 million non-competitive GLRI grant to the City of Ishpeming. The project will create over a 0.5 mi of prime brook trout habitat and 1.3 acres of new wetlands in the new creek’s floodplain.

When the Partridge Creek project was designed, a key objective was to restore a man-made ditch into its naturally meandering stream channel. One of the critical target species for that habitat was brook trout. Accordingly, the new stream is designed to create brook trout habitat with pools, riffles, meanders and submerged structures.

Timeline

Year Critical Actions Associated BUIs
2012 Phase I of Partridge Creek diversion completed – created 0.5 mile of closed culvert and 0.2 mile of open stream. Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
2011

RAP update - outlined plans for removing the remaining BUI.

Stage 2 Remedial Action Plan (PDF) (10 pp, 1.4 MB, About PDFExit December 2011
Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
2011

Two beneficial use impairments were removed from the Area of Concern.

Guidance for Delisting Michigan's AOCs (PDF) (66 pp, 737 K, About PDFExit August 2008

  • Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae
2005 MDEQ observed further improvements in winter dissolved oxygen compared with previous studies.

Eutrophication or undesirable algae

2005 Long-term monitoring and wildlife study was completed by PAC – initiated removal process for BUI.  Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
2004-2005 Water monitoring conducted by PAC showed valve operation reduced in-lake methylation by 65 percent.  Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
2002 RAP update – set BUI removal goals and recommended remedies to decrease mercury concentrations in fish.  Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
2002 Water quality began to be monitored weekly and improvements were observed. Eutrophication or undesirable algae
1997 Since monitoring began in 1963, bald eagles were found to be successfully reproducing for the first time without deformities when nests were occupied. Breeding remains successful today. Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
1994 Mercury content of standard northern pike measured below “no consumption” trigger.  Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
1993 Mercury content of brook trout measured below “no consumption” trigger.  Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
1989 MDEQ determined dissolved oxygen content during winter had improved 3 years after wastewater treatment improvements made.  Eutrophication or undesirable algae
1987 MDNR published the stage I remedial action plan. Remedial Action Plan for Deer Lake Area of Concern, 1987 (PDF) ( 168 pp, 5.3MB)
  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae

Top of page

Partners Exit disclaimer

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 

MDEQ is responsible for executing many of the remedial actions that have occurred at Deer Lake. Additionally, they publish the remedial action plan documents.

Michigan Department of Community Health 

Visit MDCH's website for the most up-to-date information regarding fish consumption and their "Eat Safe Fish" guide.

Michigan Statewide Public Advisory Council 

The Deer Lake Public Advisory Council has been critical in the restoration of the Deer Lake Area of Concern. The Council has 21 voting members plus three non-voting state agency representatives who serve in an advisory capacity. PAC membership represents a broad cross-section of interests that include the City of Ishpeming, environmental organizations, local businesses, recreation and wastewater treatment.

The PAC provides year-round water quality and wildlife monitoring. They also support volunteer cleanups and habitat restoration projects at streambanks, the lakeshore, public access sites and islands. 

Top of page


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.