Protect Water Quality: Use Brine Instead Of Rock Salt

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

We all know that salt keeps our communities safe by reducing the number of vehicle accidents, as well as slip and fall accidents. Unfortunately, salt doesn’t just disappear when all the snow melts; it is washed into our lakes, rivers, and streams and has an almost immediate effect on water quality.  As a homeowner, consider reducing salt use by applying brine, not rock salt, before a snow storm and shoveling frequently to keep snow from accumulating.  This is the best way to save your back, your knees, and our local rivers like the Clinton and Rouge!

Salt washed into storm sewers impact local waterways, like our Clinton River

Brine, a mixture of salt and water, has become a great alternative to traditional rock salt,  The transition to using brine for a homeowner has minimal costs.  Brine can be pre-mixed in large quantities and stored in your basement or garage.  By spraying brine, you have more control over your application, so you don’t apply over the same area twice, and it won’t bounce off the driveway the way rock salt can.  Brine starts working much faster than rock salt due to the increased contact area with the snow.  The best method is to apply the brine before a snow storm begins.

For more information on how you can improve and protect your local rivers, lakes, and streams, please visit our website.  To report pollution, please call our Department at 248-364-6900.

A Look Back At The Clinton River Water Festival

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you happen to be a longtime subscriber of this blog you’re familiar with the strong partnership that the City of Auburn Hills has with Oakland University in educating tomorrow’s leaders.  For 11 years, both organizations have worked together to teach children about the role clean water plays in our quality of life and economic prosperity.

This past May over 1,200 fifth grade students attended the Clinton River Water Festival held at Oakland University to learn all about the number of ways that water impacts our daily lives … and the need to keep it clean.

Thanks to the 79 professionals who presented at the festival and the 40 plus Oakland University students who worked as guides.  The children were able to attend five of the 47 fun and interactive sessions offered during the day that covered a variety of topics including stormwater, soil erosion, habitat, wildlife, and pollution prevention.

The Oakland County Dirt Doctors prepares to demonstrate the negative effects of soil erosion

Oakland County Sheriff Don Nolen discusses the importance of water safety

Andrew Foerg from ECS discusses the environmental impacts of stormwater runoff

A special thank you goes out to all the event presenters, volunteers, and sponsors who made this year’s festival a success.

Swimming With Dinosaurs

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you haven’t been to SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium lately, you might not have heard about the great work they’re doing to help protect Michigan’s Lake Sturgeon population.  SEA LIFE Michigan has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division to help conserve these sea creatures that have been swimming our waters for more than 201 million years.  Yes, that’s right – more than 201 million years.

It’s quite amazing to think that sturgeon were around during the Triassic Period which took place between 252 million and 201 million years ago, right before the Jurassic Period began.  That means sturgeon were swimming around when the first dinosaurs started to roam the earth.  What’s equally fascinating is that Michigan waters are home to these “living fossils” that can grow to 200 pounds and seven feet in length.

According to Shannon Mueller, Educational Specialist at SEA LIFE Michigan, Lake Sturgeon have become a threatened species because they have a slow life cycle compared to other fish.  They take a long time to mature – at least 15 years for males and 20 years for females, and they only lay eggs once every three to five years.  To make matters worse, these fish are highly susceptible to habitat destruction.  SEA LIFE Michigan has joined the DNR’s effort to help conserve and rehabilitate the Lake Sturgeon population in Michigan.

Here is how the conservation program works.  Lake Sturgeon are hatched in the spring at the Black Lake Fish Hatchery right here in Michigan.  SEA LIFE Michigan then receives the young Lake Sturgeon where they grow over the winter before being released back into their native home in the spring.  SEA LIFE Michigan provides environmental enrichment while they are on-site, which gives the young sturgeon the skills to survive in the wild.  Through this program, SEA LIFE Michgian is able to help repopulate a threatened species, collect and report data on sturgeon behavior, growth, and husbandry best practices.

SEA LIFE Michigan offers classes that explore the species’ adaptations, anatomy, lifecycle and the reasons they have become endangered.  Lake Sturgeon are extremely important to Michigan’s lakes because they eat decaying matter and invasive mussels!

We applaud SEA LIFE Michigan for their dedication to protecting this marvelous fish species that has survived for hundreds of millions of years.  We hope they survive hundreds of millions more.

If you’re interested in joining the effort in helping protect and preserve Michgian’s local Lake Sturgeon population, you can follow some of these simple tips:

  • Avoid eating sturgeon meat and caviar
  • Clean all of your recreational equipment to help prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases
  • Reduce litter on the ground and in the lakes
  • Only fish for lake sturgeon if you have a permit and return any accidental catches of lake sturgeon
  • Call the Report-All-Poaching number at 800-292-7800, if you witness illegal fishing or see anything that could harm Michigan’s sturgeon population.

To learn more about Michigan’s Lake Sturgeon, please visit the MDNR Fisheries Division Lake Sturgeon website at,4570,7-153-10364_18958_61264—,00.html.

For more information about SEA LIFE Michigan’s conservation programs, visit

Commitment To Clean Waters Continues

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Not many people would spend the first day of fall – especially a sunny, 90-degree day – walking the banks of the Clinton River to search out and remove trash from the area.  But on the morning of September 23rd, a group of eight dedicated individuals did just that.

The volunteers met at River Woods Park and spent two hours collecting a wide variety of trash and debris from the river and its banks.  They worked through the morning and removed eight bags of garbage, one shopping cart, a traffic cone, and a six-foot-long 2” x 6” plank of wood caught in a logjam.

Extra effort was required to find debris because not much had washed up on shore due to fewer bank-full storm events during the spring and summer. There is one thing for sure – their efforts benefit the entire community and goes a long way in maintaining the beauty of our three parks; River Woods, Riverside, and the Skate Park.

I’m sure the deer that stopped by for a morning snack of crabapples appreciated the efforts made that morning too.

Jimmy John’s (located on Baldwin Road), stopped by to provide all the volunteers with a free lunch.  They went all out by bringing four different types of subs and chips and an assortment of pop and water for everyone.

The City of Auburn Hills would like to send out a special “thank you” to all the volunteers who participated in this clean-up and to Jimmy John’s for supporting their efforts.

To find out more on actions you can take to keep our waters clean; please visit the following websites:

To report pollution, please call the City of Auburn Hills, Community Development Department at 248-364-6900.

The River Clean-Up Tradition Continues

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Over the last 30 years, residents and businesses from all around the Clinton River Watershed have volunteered their time to improve the health of our local rivers, lakes, and streams by removing trash and debris from our waterways.  The City of Auburn Hills is looking to keep the tradition going by hosting a river clean-up event on Saturday, September 23rd.

Volunteers for this annual event are dedicated to the preservation and protection of our waters and natural resources for our future generations to enjoy.  They also realize the wide range of recreational opportunities, including fishing and kayaking, our local waterways now provide.

So if you’re looking for an opportunity make a positive impact in your community and improve the health of the Clinton River, stop by River Woods Park in Auburn Hills on Saturday, September 23rd, at 9:00 am.  The clean-up will conclude at noon when the team at Jimmy John’s will provide free subs to the volunteers!

For additional information, please contact Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner by phone at 248-364-6926 or by e-mail at  Advanced notice of participation is appreciated but not required.  Volunteers are advised to wear work clothes and sturdy shoes.

To learn more about future river clean-up events, please visit the Clinton River Watershed Council at

Unlimited Commitment To Our Waters

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

On the sun-filled Saturday of August 19th, dedicated volunteers from the Clinton Valley and Vanguard Chapters of Trout Unlimited (TU) worked together to improve the water and habitat of the Clinton River in an area just downstream of the Auburn Court bridge.  During their hours of dedicated service, these loyal stewards of trout streams managed to remove over nine bags of trash and other debris from the river that had been accumulating in a log jam.

They also took time to remove and reposition the logs within the log jam to open the stream so it can flow more freely and prevent the banks of the river from eroding.  All in all, the day’s efforts were a success!  The group’s commitment went a long way in improving the health, recreational use (fishing and kayaking) and aesthetics of the Clinton River.

Woody Debris Before Cleanup

Woody Debris After Cleanup

The City of Auburn Hills sends out a special thank you to Mark Johnston who took the lead in planning the project, all the volunteers from Trout Unlimited who participated, as well as Peninsula Plastics who provided room in their dumpster for all the trash and debris collected from the river.

Adopt-A-Stream Offers Hands-On Environmental Opportunity

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

If you’re interested in learning more about the water quality of your local rivers, creeks or streams and don’t mind getting a little wet, the Clinton River Watershed Council’s Adopt-A-Stream program is an activity worth exploring.  This volunteer-based program invites residents and businesses alike a hands-on opportunity to monitor the health of our local waterways.

Volunteers are trained, teamed-up and assigned a location to monitor twice a year – once in May and once in October, for about three to four hours each time.  Equipment and data sheets will be provided for the collection of information on streamside habitat, physical characteristics, and benthic macroinvertebrate (bug) populations.   The presence of specific bugs, or lack thereof, is a good indicator of water quality.

The data collected is of great use to the Clinton River Watershed Council, local municipalities and the State of Michigan to assess the health of its local waterways and make decisions regarding protection and restoration.

For more information or to register for one of the free Adopt-A-Stream events, please contact the Clinton River Watershed Council by phone at 248-601-0606 or by email at