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Land Policy Institute publishes guidebook on rural water quality

April 18, 2013 | 0 comments

The Planning and Zoning Center (PZC) at Michigan State University, a part of the MSU Land Policy Institute, has developed a new planning and zoning guidebook for use by local government officials in very rural parts of Michigan.

John Warbach, LPI associate director, led the project and is a co-author, along with Mark Wyckoff, MSU professor, LPI senior associate director and PZC director; and PZC team members Mark Jones, Ryan Soucy and Jacqueline Spry.

The new Rural Water Quality Protection Guidebook is a necessary addition to the libraries of planning commissioners, zoning administrators, and other local appointed and elected officials in rural Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes states.

The guidebook provides information about how land development and other activities on the land affect water quality; provides an overview of the entities engaged in water quality protection; provides educational materials on best management practices; and provides sample language for community master plans and zoning ordinances that ensures future development and other land use activities occur with little impact on the quality of water needed for our communities.

The guidebook's 116 pages are divided into four chapters - Introduction, Understanding Watersheds, the Umbrella of Protection for the Watershed, and Best Management Practices in Rural Areas - and features two appendices (Appendix A: Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance Sample Language, and Appendix B: Local Planning and Zoning Assessment Tool).

Chapter 4 and Appendix A make up the bulk of the guidebook. they include a description of each major low-impact development category, a list of best management practices within the category, and "Good," "Better" and "Best" tables for that category.

The guidebook is one of the products of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to MSU through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

The PZC was selected by the EPA to complete a GLRI project targeting 102 local units of government in the three subwatersheds of the Saginaw Bay watershed (Cass River, Pigeon/Pinnebog River and Rifle River) to assist with master plan and zoning ordinance updates to protect water quality.

Unlike other programs that received funding under the GLRI program - whose goal is the physical restoration of the Great Lakes and the rivers, streams and nearshore areas that feed them - the goal of the PZC project is to prevent further environmental degradation of the Saginaw Bay by assisting local and regional stakeholders with the adoption of measures that will ensure protection of water quality as new development and redevelopment occur.

Learn more about PZC's GLRI project at Saginaw Bay Watershed Project.

Key direction for the guidebook was provided by an advisory committee: Sue Fortune and Anamika Laad from the East Michigan Council of Governments; Zachary Branigan and Greg Eagle, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy; and Michelle Selzer and Charles Bauer, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

This free publication is available for download on the Land Policy Institute website: http://www.landpolicy.msu.edu/ (Search for Rural Water Quality Protection Guidebook.)

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