- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Grand Traverse County’s soil erosion control program will be under state supervision after an audit deemed the program’s performance as unsatisfactory.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently released the results of its July audit of the county’s program. Auditors reported the soil erosion permit applications they reviewed were incomplete, that county employees handed out violations on just 2.5 percent of permits and that the program’s budget wasn’t adequate to support it.

“I knew it was going to be bad,” county administrator Tom Menzel told the Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/1JL1JDi ). “This was no surprise.”

Measures to control soil erosion protect water quality, especially in northern Michigan, said Brian Jankowski, a Department of Environmental Quality Water Resources Division supervisor.

“Soil is probably one of the largest pollutants and threats to the water quality, fish habitat,” said Jankowski, who’s based in Cadillac. “You’re increasing suspended solids, you’re increasing sediment that can cover spawning beds, things like that.”

Jankowski said the Department of Environmental Quality will work with the county to fix problems found in the audit and will oversee the county’s program until it reverses course.

Menzel said he’s already making changes to the county’s erosion control program. He moved it from the county’s Code Enforcement Department and into the Health Department, but said it might not stay there.

The county doesn’t have more money to put toward the erosion program, Menzel said. He might look for outside money to help.

“I’ve got to comply and they suggested spending more money with more people, which is out of the option for me because I don’t have more money to do it with,” Menzel said. “I have to find some creative way to be in compliance but look at other resources that can help me do that.”


Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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