HPR March 2016 minutes

Minutes of Healthy Pine River  March 11, 2016  7 p.m.  Alma Public Library

Call to Order by Gary Rayburn
Approval of February Minutes  (Kathy Smith/Chuck Sandro)
Treasurer’s Report by Chuck Sandro:     (approved Justin Barnaby/Dawn Brady)
*50 paid members
*$1,684.01 in account
*No word yet on the Community Foundation Grant
New Business
*Farm Bureau Visit at February Meeting.  
Letters were sent to Don Lehman, MSUE Co-ordinator asking about vacancies in the extension office which would support farmers.  The response indicates that County Extension Director positions have been eliminated.  The Crops Educator position has not been filled due to budget limitations.  The Ag (livestock) Educator, Jerry May, retired in November 2015.  That job (Ag Educator for Gratiot County as well as Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Clinton, Ionia, Montcalm counties) will be posted and hired this spring.  Don Lehman is the District 8 (our) coordinator.  Other educators also cover Gratiot County.  {further information included at the end of this report}
*Bathymetry study of river.  No word yet on the Community Foundation Grant
*Report from Murray Borello (in the words of Murray Borello)
The focus of our research last summer, was to identify any potential impacts from septic systems that could be contributing to the significant nutrient loading (N and P inputs) problem downstream behind the Alma Dam.
We identified the highest population densities that use septic systems along the Pine River upstream of the Alma Dam.  We sampled upstream and downstream from these sites which included:  Elm Hall, Riverdale and Sumner.  
We did not find nutrient impacts in concentrations that would explain even a small contribution to what we are seeing downstream.  So, our preliminary conclusion is that these sources are not significant contributors of the heavy nutrient load we see downstream.
In reference to Dr. Cheatham’s comments, however, we need to be clear that our research cannot rule out any impact from leaky septic systems.  It is possible there are septic impacts from these sources, just not significant enough to explain what we observe the serious algal blooms downstream.  This is an important point given that human waste may carry potential pathogens that we don’t find in average animal waste.  Our goal was not to identify “any” inputs, just those significant enough to help explain what we observe downstream from these population centers.
Next summer, we hope to redo our study and add bacterial inputs (and hopefully, caffeine and DNA fingerprinting of E. coli).  
There is good evidence that spreading of manure and CAFOs serve as point source.  If farmers have a guide that they follow and this is the result, then laws need to change.  
Alma College will talk to state to make sure the testing (which is accepted in scientific journals) they are doing is protocol/accepted.  
*Julie Spencer met with Bob Gouin (MMDHD) and he is pulling records to check permit status for septic system residences.  This should help determine septic systems that are due for maintenance or are likely sources of leakage.  
*Brian Denman thought the tribe used both dogs and DNA fingerprinting and found septic systems to be a large contributor of e. coli bacteria.
* In response to determining the direction we take, Marcus Cheatum suggested that the “Water Czar” come speak to us.   Chuck Sandro suggested the DEQ people (Megan and Mike) come speak to us. 
Kathy Smith suggested we need a step by step plan.  A small ad hoc committee volunteered:  Marcus Cheatum, Julie Spencer, Dawn Brady, Tim Lambrecht, Justin Barnaby, Wayne Brooks, Jerry May, Jane Keon.
*Due to time constraints no decisions were made about an HPR seminar or the Live Camera on the river. 
*Meeting adjourned 9 p.m.
Don Lehman, MSUE District 8 Coordinator
  The expertise we will be looking for in the new ag educator will be environmental quality, water issues, and nutrient management.  The supervisor will be Ron Bates, the director of the Agriculture and Agri-business Institute, with support from Don Lehman.  Other educators with responsibilities in Gratiot County are listed below.
Additional MSU Extension Staff Serving Gratiot County:
Name Role Phone Email
Laura Anderson – Disease Prevention Educator               269-945-1388    ander359@anr.msu.edu
Randy Bell –  Community Food Systems Educator           517-676-7298    bellr@anr.msu.edu
Diane Brown-Rytlewski –  Horticulture Educator               517-676-7292    rytlews1@anr.msu.edu
Kittie Butcher –  Early Childhood Educator                        989-224-5228    Butche36@anr.msu.edu
Faith Cullens –  Dairy Educator                                        989-224-5249    cullensf@anr.msu.edu
Rebecca Finneran –  Horticulture Educator                       616-632-7886    Finneran@anr.msu.edu
Charles Gould –  Bioenergy & Agriculture Conservation    616-994-4547    gouldm@anr.msu.edu
Kevin Gould –  Beef & Livestock Educator                        616-527-5357   gouldk@anr.msu.edu
Tom Guthrie –  Swine & Equine Educator                         517-788-4292    guthrie19@anr.msu.edu
Becky Henne –  Community Food Systems Educator       517-543-4468    henner@anr.msu.edu
Adam Kantrovich –  Farm Management Educator             616-994-4570    akantrov@anr.msu.edu
Brenda Long –  Housing Senior Educator                         616-527-5357    longbr@anr.msu.edu
Joyce McGarry –  Food Safety & Preservation Educator   517-887-4587    mcgarry@anr.msu.edu
George Silva –  Field Crops Senior Educator                    517-543-4467   silvag@anr.msu.edu
Sheila Urban Smith –  4-H Youth Development Educator   517-432-7612     smiths20@anr.msu.edu
Fred Springborn –  Field Crops Educator                          989-831-7509     springb2@anr.msu.edu
Marilyn Thelen –  Crop & Livestock Senior Educator              989-227-6454     thelen22@anr.msu.edu