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CONSENT AGREEMENT REACHED ON PLATTE RIVER STATE FISH HATCHERY DISPUTE

LANSING--Representatives of the Platte Lake Improvement
Association and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
today filed a consent agreement with the Ingham County
Circuit Court that ends a 14-year dispute concerning
discharges from the Platte River State Fish Hatchery.
"After so many years without agreement on Platte River
Hatchery issues, this development is most welcome," said
Governor John Engler. "I am grateful to all parties involved
for finding the common ground that will allow this hatchery
to fulfill its mission in harmony with environmental
concerns."
Dr. Kelley Smith, DNR Fisheries Chief, agreed. "The
agreement will allow for the continued full operation of
this important hatchery that raises most of Michigan's
salmon, while making the facility as 'environmentally
neutral' as possible, thus helping protect a unique and
important watershed," Smith said.
The agreement addresses the amount of water and phosphorus
the hatchery can discharge, as point highlighted by the
president of the citizens group that filed a lawsuit against
the DNR in 1986. "This agreement will ensure the Platte
River State Fish Hatchery will not be a significant
phosphorus contributor to the Platte River watershed," said
Wilfred Swiecki, president of the Platte Lake Improvement
Association. "It also resolves all of our outstanding issues
concerning this facility."
The agreement also addresses the number of salmon that can
be allowed past the lower weir for spawning purposes at the
hatchery, the way hatchery discharges will be monitored, the
way antibiotics and other chemicals are used at the hatchery
and the way compliance will be determined with the
agreement. The parties also have agreed upon a level of
phosphorus that is protective of Big Platte Lake, which will
result in the improved water quality of this important
resource.
The agreement also provides a clear communication protocol
to prevent future misunderstandings and will encourage both
parties to work together on watershed problems. An
implementation coordinator will be hired to assist in
enacting the agreement and helping to ensure compliance with
the agreement.
The agreement has the following key provisions:
* The hatchery discharge will be limited to a maximum of 20
million gallons per day.
* The hatchery discharge of phosphorus will be phased down
over the next six to seven years to 175 lbs. per year and no
more than 55 lbs. for any three-month period. This phased
approach is needed to allow the facility to be renovated in
order to meet the conditions of the agreement. There are
specific phosphorus limits for the pre-construction period
(210 lbs. annually and 75 lbs. for any three-month period),
the construction period (250 lbs. annually and 75 lbs. for
any three-month period) and a three-year post-construction
testing period (225 lbs. annually and 70 lbs. for any three-
month period).
* The lower weir will be operated from August 15 to November
14, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. A total
20,000 adult coho and 1,000 adult chinook salmon may be
passed annually. All naturally migrating non-salmonid
species along with brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout
(steelhead) may be passed by the lower weir.
* The upper weir will be operated from August 15 to December
14, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. All salmon
will be removed at the upper weir. All naturally migrating
non-salmonid species along with brook, brown, lake and
rainbow trout (steelhead) will be returned to the river.
* All harvested salmon from the two weirs will be removed
from the drainage to ensure phosphorus from this source is
not released back into the Platte River watershed.
* The parties agree that to properly protect Big Platte Lake
the phosphorus concentration should not exceed 8.0 ug/l and
this standard should be met 95 percent of the time.
* All inflows and discharge points will be measured twice
per week for total phosphorus, temperature, suspended solids
and flow.
* The current watershed-monitoring program will be continued
until compliance with the final 175-lbs. phosphorus standard
has been demonstrated for five continuous years.
* The use of antibiotics, antiseptics and other effluents
will be evaluated to determine whether and to what extent
such materials are released into the environment from the
hatchery.
* Annual compliance audits will be conducted.
* A communication protocol and a dispute resolution process
have been developed by the parties.
* An implementation coordinator will be hired by the parties
and reappointed annually. The implementation coordinator
will assist in ensuring the success of the agreement and has
specific duties outlined in the agreement. The
implementation coordinator duties will terminate with the
achievement of the final annual and three-month phosphorus
limits set by the agreement for a period of five continuous
years.
"The agreement allows the $7.5 million renovation program
for the Platte River State Fish Hatchery to proceed," Smith
said, "since it removes all the legal uncertainties
concerning this facility and provides reasonable fixed
targets the renovation program can meet."
One of the key components to this program is to install
state-of-the-art effluent controls at this facility,
anticipating the future needs of the agreement in this
important area.
All parties agree this consent agreement will continue to
improve water quality conditions in the Platte River
watershed and allow the Great Lakes salmon program to
continue in its current form. The parties also agree that
the agreement is a model of how government can successfully
interact with concerned citizens to protect natural
resources.
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