Tittabawassee River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Overview
On July 27, 2020, a settlement with the Dow Chemical Company to address federal, state, and tribal claims for natural resource damages in the Tittabawassee River System was finalized. The settlement is for an estimated $77 million in projects and funding that will restore fish, wildlife, and habitats injured following releases of hazardous substances in past decades from Dow’s manufacturing facility in Midland, Michigan. Under the settlement, Dow will implement or fund a number of restoration projects identified in Midland, Bay, Saginaw, and nearby counties. The natural resource Trustees evaluated a range of restoration actions and alternatives which would provide benefits to natural resources to compensate the public for losses to natural resources injured by releases from Dow's Midland plant and published the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Tittabawassee River System.
Saginaw Bay Spawning Reef Project
Under the proposed settlement, Dow will provide $1M to allow the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and their partners to construct one or more rock reefs in Saginaw Bay to provide fish habitat and spawning areas. This will build on pilot studies and pilot reef construction that has been done with other funding.
Restoring and creating new spawning reef habitat in the bay would diversify spawning habitat, improve populations of local fish strains, and buffer temporal recruitment variation of walleye and other species including lake trout and lake whitefish. Reef restoration would also complement efforts to reintroduce and reestablish cisco, a fish species listed as threatened by the State of Michigan. Given the productivity of inner Saginaw Bay, reef restoration there would facilitate and support resilient and diverse fish populations throughout Saginaw Bay and much of Lake Huron. Furthermore, restoration of rock reef in Saginaw Bay is included as a recommended action in the recent Lake Huron Lakewide Action Management Plan.