U.S. EPA RAP Liaison:
U.S. EPA - Region 5
77 W. Jackson Boulevard (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604
State RAP Contact:
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909-7773
White Lake PAC:
Norm Ulman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
524 E. Colby
Whitehall, MI 49461
Greg Mund (email@example.com)
White Lake SPAC Representative
USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service
Muskegon Conservation District
1001 E. Wesley, Room 6
Muskegon, MI 49442
White Lake PAC Support Staff
Muskegon Conservation District
940 N. Van Eyck Street
Muskegon, MI 49442
- City of Whitehall
- City of Montague
- Fruitland Township
- Grand Valley State University – Annis Water Resources Institute
- Great Lakes Commission
- Lake Michigan Forum
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
- Michigan Statewide Public Advisory Council
- Muskegon Conservation District
- USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service
- U.S. EPA – Great Lakes National Program Office
- Whitehall Township
- White Lake Association
- White Lake Community Library
- White Lake Public Advisory Council
- AOC Area of Concern
- BUI Beneficial Use Impairment
- CMP/EIS Chemical Management Plan or Environmental Impact Statement
- GLNPO Great Lakes National Program Office
- RAP Remedial Action Plan
The White Lake Shoreline Restoration Project will restore fish and wildlife habitat along White Lake’s shoreline. When completed in the fall of 2012, habitat will be restored at seven public and private sites on White Lake’s shoreline. There will be more and increased diversity of wetland plants, healthier habitat for fish, reptiles and amphibians, improved water quality, and more aesthetically pleasing shorelines. The project is supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. More information about the project can be found at the Muskegon Conservation District.
The City of Whitehall's Lake Street Reconstruction project will use best watershed management practices to improve storm water quality in the AOC. The "green street" project will use bioswales, naturalized detention, filter strips and treatment wetlands to improve stormwater quality before it enters White Lake. The project is partially funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
White Lake is a 2,570 acre coastal, drowned river mouth lake located in Muskegon County along the east shore of Lake Michigan, in the vicinity of the communities of Montague and Whitehall. The Area of Concern (AOC) includes White Lake and White River Watershed. Most of the land around the lake is wooded or grassy, with sand dunes located along Lake Michigan. Land use in the White River Watershed is primarily recreational and agricultural, with the uses around White Lake being residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural.
The Muskegon Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service assist the White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) by providing project staff as well as educational and technical support to coordinate and implement the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the White Lake AOC. For more details about the White Lake PAC, see Community/Local RAP Group Involvement below.
White Lake priorities include contaminated sediment remediation, eutrophication control, remediation of groundwater and former industrial site contamination, and wildlife habitat and population restoration. The White River priorities are eutrophication and nutrient management, and riparian corridor restoration.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae
- Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
White Lake was originally listed as an AOC primarily due to contaminated groundwater migrating to the lake from the Occidental Chemical Site (formerly Hooker Chemical Company). There are eight other sites of contamination with the potential to affect the lake, some of them in varying states of remediation.
The RAP process identified eight of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement's 14 beneficial uses as being impaired. Beneficial use impairments (BUI) in the AOC include Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption, Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat, Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations, Degradation of Benthos, Restrictions on Dredging Activities, Restrictions on Drinking Water Consumption, or Taste and Odor Problems, and Degradation of Aesthetics.
For further information on White Lake BUIs, see the RAP documents listed in the Significant RAP Milestones section below.
The White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC) worked with Grand Valley State University - Annis Water Research Institute (GVSU-AWRI) to develop delisting targets for five of the eight BUIs. The targets have been approved by the PAC and will go through a technical review by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to be officially approved.
In 2007, the Muskegon Conservation District will be working with GVSU-AWRI and other project partners to finalize delisting targets for two of the three remaining BUIs (Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations and Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat) for White Lake.
For more information regarding the development of the delisting targets, see the White Lake AOC contacts listed below.
RAP Development and Status
White Lake was originally listed as an AOC because of venting of a groundwater plume contaminated with an organic solvent from the Occidental Chemical Company site. Analysis of recent well monitoring data indicates that the plume of contaminated groundwater moving from the site is being intercepted by the lake-front purgewell network and effectively treated prior to discharge to White Lake. Other potential sources of groundwater contamination to White Lake and its tributaries have been identified and remediation efforts are under way. Contaminated sediments have been removed at the Tannery site (approximately 85,000 cubic yards) in 2002 and at Oxy Chem / Hooker Chemical (12,000 cubic yards) in 2003.
The PAC and MDEQ are focusing on eight priority use impairments on White Lake. There was substantial improvement in the water quality of White Lake prior to 1987 simply because of the diversion of industrial and municipal discharges away from the lake by the mid-1970s. Similarly, analytical results for water samples collected in 1992 from the navigational channel between White Lake and Lake Michigan indicate that water quality has improved since the previous samples were taken in 1983. All parameters measured in 1992 met Michigan's water quality standards, established to protect human and aquatic life. Heavy metal concentrations are lower than those observed in earlier sampling, chloride concentrations are the lowest recorded since testing of this parameter began in 1963; and phosphorous and nitrogen levels have remained relatively stable since diversion of wastewater from White Lake in 1974. While a 28-day caged fish study conducted in the channel in 1992 showed that chlordane, DDE and dieldrin are present, the levels accumulated in the fish do not suggest a substantial problem.
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Significant RAP Milestones
- 2005: White Lake Community Action Plan: Remedial Action Plan 2002 Update (PDF) (48 pp, 3.0MB)
- 1995: White Lake Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan: 1995 Update (PDF) (97 pp, 4.2MB) completed.
- 1993: The White Lake PAC was officially established.
- 1987: Remedial Action Plan for White Lake Area of Concern (PDF) (25 8pp, 7.3MB) completed.
Progress and achievements
- 2005: Delisting targets and criteria were developed for five of the eight BUIs. (PDF 435 16pp)
- 2005: The Muskegon Conservation District completed a Lake Shoreline Habitat Assessment that also evaluates areas for littoral/riparian zone contiguity.
- 2005: Koch Chemical agrees to install new well for City of Whitehall due to groundwater contamination overlapping with the city’s "groundwater protection area."
- 2005: PAC volunteers receive training to implement Marsh Monitoring program
- 2005: Dupont continuing to monitor groundwater plume.
- 2004-05: White Lake Nutrient Study started. Expected to be completed in 2007.
- 2003-04: Formation of the White River Watershed Partnership.
- 2003: Oxy Chem / Hooker Chemical dredges 12,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the lake near their outlet discharge pipe.
- 2002: Michigan citizens (via MDEQ) and Genesco, Inc. paid for removal of 85,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Tannery Bay.
- 2001: It was announced that Genesco Inc., parent company of now-defunct Whitehall Leather Co., and the State of Michigan would split the $6.7 million cost of removing 73,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from White Lake's "Tannery Bay". Whitehall Leather and its forerunners began dumping cow hides into Tannery Bay beginning in 1866 and discharging heavy metals into the lake in 1944. DEQ reports show the sediments contained chromium levels 200 times higher than normal, 100 times more arsenic than is normal as well as leather scraps, cow hair and a substance described as "purple mayonnaise".
- Lake News and Views, a combined publication of the White Lake PAC and Muskegon Lake PAC, is regularly produced and distributed.
- White Lake Shoreline Habitat Management Plan (PDF) (28 pp, 3.15MB).
- The Muskegon Conservation District produces a regular newsletter with features on White Lake.
- A report on fisheries and wildlife habitat in the White Lake AOC was produced in 2001. It is available from the Muskegon Conservation District.