HPR April 2016 Minutes

Healthy Pine River Meeting this Thursday, May 12, 
7 p.m. 
at Alma Public Library

State of the Pine River by Murray Borello, this Saturday, May 148:30-12:00 at Alma College Science Building, Kapp Room L4

Minutes of Healthy Pine River / April 14, 2016 @ 7 p.m. / Alma Public Library
Call to order by Gary Rayburn
Approval of March Minutes
Treasurer’s Report by Chuck Sandro:
*58 paid members
*$1,700 in the account
New Business
*Bob Gouin, Director of Environmental Health @ MMDHD*
+ Demonstration and discussion of what he and his department have been working on to modernize their operations:
  • Hired a secretary to organize and deal with 80% of the department’s paper records which date from 1965 to present.
  • Secured a grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative in order to create a mailing list (using Excel) of all the property owners in our watershed.  *Space for data on well and/or septic status, but many of these spaces are empty due to lack of info.*
  • Julie Spencer hopes to launch an education/information campaign utilizing the addresses  (ie. Septics 101, Watershed 101, etc.)
  • Excel document of addresses is connected to Geographic Information System of Gratiot County (GIS) which shows a live satellite picture overview of our county.
+ Why are many of the data fields blank in the Excel mailing list?
  • MMDHD has no authority to go to home/property owners and inquire about their septic systems or their wells.  Authority is only tied to a “written complaint”.
  • There is a possibility of filling in the blanks if property/home owners are contacted by phone for the necessary information.  An opportunity to express concerns re: health of the Pine River? 
+ Michigan is the last state in the U.S. without a uniform Sanitary Waste Code!
  • Addition to current state regulations in 2000 re: square footage and size of septic tanks.  Last large overhaul of regulations was in 1984.
  • Who has the authority to update the regulations??  Board of Health, Gratiot County Board of Commissioners, ???, ???.
  • Gratiot County and two others (Montcalm & Clinton?) are tied together and a vote of 50+1 is required of ALL three to update/pass any new regulations.
  • The desire of property owners to retain local control has been a BIG influence on why our state lacks uniform sanitary waste regulations.
+ Possibility exists to establish a “revolving septic loan fund” program in Gratiot Co., similar to the one in Bay Co., to help with the costs for updating septic systems.
  • Laura Ogar, Bay County Director of Environmental Affairs and Community Development states that it is “hard to keep the pot full” during the process of this program.
+ Bob Gouin in the final stages, with the help of a Canadian software engineer, of creating software that will enable permits to be created while “in the field”.
*Grant Application (Chuck Sandro)*
+ Deadline of March 22, 2017  to use the $2,500 grant from Gratiot County Community Foundation
+ $5,000 to $10,000 price of bathymetry study by Barr Engineering
+ Stakeholders need to be approached for their support
+ Also, waiting to hear on grant from Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (commonly referred to as WIN)
*Live Pine River Camera (Gary Rayburn)*    Proposal from Matt @ May’s monthly meeting
*Tillage Survey of Upper Pine River Watershed (Jane Keon)*
+ Julie Spencer requested helped from Jane Keon for this project she agreed.
  • Observe certain areas of the watershed near the upper Pine and its tributaries.
  • Take note of crop residue or remnant crops before farmers get out into the fields and begin plowing.
  • Jerry May volunteered to help.
Old Business
*Membership  –  if you are not a member you cannot vote
*Boat for use on the river  –  Gary bought a 14 foot, flat-bottom boat.  Motor to be donated soon (9 h.p.), but looking for a smaller 4 or 5 h.p. motor.
*State of the Pine River meeting*
Saturday, May 14th (8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
+ Alma College Science Building
+ DOW/KAPP Rm. L4  –  Just off Main Lobby
*Chemical Exposure Seminar @ Alma College on April 27 & 28*  –  Comments?
~~ Meeting adjourned @ 8:40 p.m. ~~
Submitted by Heather Chapin