Environmental Services

Surface Water Protection Program


The LTBB Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP) was established in 1999. Activities implemented within the program are to ensure the sustainment, protection, and/or prevention of the degradation of LTBB waters and wetlands. The WQPP is funded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 106 Clean Water Act. Proposals must be submitted every other year and approved by EPA to secure these funds to run the program. There are three main objectives within the SWQPP: continue monitoring Tribal waters and wetlands, education and outreach, and local, state, tribal and/or national representation of LTBB on workgroups or in meetings pertaining to surface water.

Sample Collection & Sampling


LTBB staff monitor a total of 19 river and stream sampling stations and 17 sites on lakes/reservoirs/ponds. The wetlands program is currently being evaluated, but currently 7 wetlands are monitored every two years. Lake samples are taken at several depths and locations, depending on lake characteristics (e.g., deep or shallow, single or multiple basins, stratification regime). River and stream samples are collected at the origin and mouth, with mid-point collection sites along rivers. Macroinvertebrates are collected in rivers, streams, creeks, and littoral zones in lakes. The Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency conducts E. Coli bacteria sampling on some lakes. Macroinvertebrate surveys are conducted in the spring, and qualitative habitat assessments, FQAs, photo monitoring, substrate characteristics, and other observations are collected throughout the years.

Above: Caroline Keson (left) and Noah Jansen (right) survey a valley of ostrich fern at Ziibimijwang. WQPP completed 12 wetland assessments from 2014-2017.

The results from chemical and nutrient analysis of water samples can be found on EPA’s STORET website, a repository and framework for sharing water monitoring data. To find chemical and nutrient data collected by the SWQPP program, follow these steps:


        1. Go to:
        2. Click on your watershed on the map (Cheboygan or Lake Michigan)
        3. Click on “water quality monitoring data from this watershed (Provided by STORET)”
        4. Scroll down to find “Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians” under “Organization Name.” Click on “Get Results.” Use the query form to select the data you want.


The data stored on STORET is not all-inclusive: more data, trend analyses, and current water quality assessment reports can be requested by contacting the WQPP directly.

Above: Lauren Dey hauls up an Eckman bottom sampler, for a macroinvertebrate survey on Spirit/Wycamp Lake in 2016.



In 2010, LTBB water qualify staff completed a baseline assessment of water quality for some of the major water bodies on and adjacent to the reservation using tribal data collected since 2000 and Michigan DEQ assessment information. Wetland data used in the assessment was available beginning in 2004. Tribal staff also conducted four types of biological assessments, which provide a more comprehensive analysis of the effects of multiple chemical and physical stressors – i.e., the parameters typically monitored by water resource professionals. These assessments include:


      • Macroinvertebrate surveys – Collection, identification, and counts for aquatic organisms (e.g., fly larvae) large enough to be viewed without a magnifying glass or microscope, assess via the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index Score.
      • Pebble Counts – Measurements and analysis of sand, gravel, cobbles, and larger material moved by streams and rivers, assessed through procedures developed by Kondolf (1997), Wolman (1954), and Schuett-Hames et al. (1994), as modified by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Natural Resource Department staff.
      • Rapids bioassessment surveys – Habitat assessment surveys based on forms developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and published as Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams and Wadeable Rivers, Second Edition.
      • Lake Bioassessment and biocriteria surveys – Qualitative habitat assessments for lakes, modified from the Lake and Reservoir Bioassessment and Biocriteria Technical Guidance Document produced by US EPA (EPA 841-B-98-007, August 1998)


The results of this assessment were used to reevaluate the structure of the monitoring design and all other components within the program.

Table 1. Benchmark water quality criteria values monitored by LTBB tribal staff.

Table 2. Summary of water quality parameters and their relevance.

Education Outreach


The WQPP knows the importance of providing education and outreach on water quality and linking it to the Odawa culture.  This is the reason why the WQPP offers education and outreach to the local and Tribal communities. We have and are willing to collaborate with other LTBB Departments, local organizations, and/or units of government that share the same goals. Some of our recent educational collaborations include partners such as the LTBB Education Department, Experience Lake Charlevoix, and Raven Hill Discovery Center. We also provide learning opportunities to the Youth Conservation Corps and summer interns. Youth programs are of high priority in order to increase interest in the environmental and natural resource fields for the future. However, we are available for education and outreach programs for any age group and can tailor the experience as needed.

Above: Attendees of LTBB’s Youth Services program learn about macroinvertebrate collection on the Bear River in 2016.

Above: Lauren Dey models a Hach Hydrolab on Larks Lake in the winter of 2016. The Hydrolab collects many pieces of information about water at the touch of a button, like temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen.