TRAVERSE CITY -- Freshwater issues abound in this region, and participants at a new conference will attempt to tackle some of those concerns.
The inaugural Freshwater Summit will study freshwater topics from invasive species to nutrient runoff, as well as connect involved players across the landscape. The event is hosted by the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, Network of Lake Associations, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Water Studies Institute of Northwestern Michigan College.
Dean Branson, of Central Lake, is registered to attend. He wants to focus on combined efforts to address phosphorous and other nutrient runoff from failed septic tanks in the region, he said.
The summit is an opportunity to "discuss and advocate good public policy to address this concern and raise awareness that we're sort of in this together," said Branson, president of the Three Lakes Association that includes Torch, Bellaire and Clam lakes.
The summit is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 30 in the Hagerty Center at NMC's Great Lakes Campus, and its goal is to broaden the understanding of how critical freshwater resources are to the region, said Andy Knott, executive director of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.
"I've always felt this region needed an annual event about freshwater and what's going on in the region," he said. "We are going to have several panel discussions about the science of freshwater, advocacy issues surrounding freshwater and what local lake associations are doing to protect their lakes."
The event is meant to become an annual affair, Knott said.
Sessions will include topics on the wide variety of regional invasive species, land use and water rights, plus the phenomenon of avian botulism poisoning that appeared in recent years, among others.
"We're seeing a lot of changes in the lakes," said Hans VanSumeren, director of NMC's Water Studies Institute.
VanSumeren said he hopes the summit will create a foundation for future events and reel in as many area residents and water experts as possible. Those interested in water-related issues are encouraged to attend, he said.
The keynote speaker will be Jo Latimore of Michigan State University, outreach specialist for lake, stream and watershed management in the university's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
The summit costs $15 and includes lunch. Organizers want those interested in the one-day event to pre-register by Thursday by calling (231) 935-1514.