Many of the impairments Plaster Creek faces are caused by stormwater--rain or snowmelt that runs over land instead of soaking into the soil. For an overview of stormwater, visit Fifteen to the River, a collaborative project by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the City of Grand Rapids, and other partners. Or, watch our short slideshow to learn how stormwater affects Plaster Creek in particular.
Here are the pollutants identified in the Plaster Creek Watershed Management Plan.
- Sediment: Stormwater runoff causes flooding in Plaster Creek, which erodes the stream’s banks and washes sediment into the creek. Sediment is also introduced by runoff from agriculture and construction sites. Overabundant sediment in the creek blankets the creekbed and destroys habitat for fish and other aquatic life. It is also carried into the Grand River and Lake Michigan.
- E. coli contamination: Waste from livestock, pets, and leaky sewage pipes and septic tanks makes the creek unsafe for human contact for most of its length.
- Nutrient pollution: Excess nutrients from lawn fertilizers, agricultural outputs, and animal manure cause algae to bloom, compromising stream quality and degrading ecosystems downstream.
- Thermal pollution: Runoff from warm, paved surfaces causes creek temperatures to fluctuate dramatically, making it inhospitable for native fish and other aquatic wildlife.
- Toxic substances: The creek is contaminated by untreated urban runoff, industrial waste, road salt, and pesticides.