Creek channel flowing between two agricultural fields

LimnoTech to Work with MDARD and Partners to Deploy Nearly $5 Million in Water Quality Monitoring in the Western Lake Erie Basin

MDARD Partners with Alliance for the Great Lakes, MSU Institute of Water Research, and LimnoTech to Deploy Nearly $5 million in Water Quality Monitoring in the Western Lake Erie Basin.”- MDARD

April 15, 2024

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) published a press release announcing plans to partner with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Michigan State University’s Institute of Water Research (IWR), and LimnoTech to expand research and monitoring in the Western Basin of Lake Erie (WLEB).

In the press release, MDARD Director Dr. Tim Boring shared how this effort will help inform the state’s strategy to accelerate progress on nutrient load reductions and address harmful algal blooms in the WLEB.

“… [MDARD] Director Dr. Tim Boring today announced plans to partner with the Alliance for the Great Lakes for $4.86 million in funding over the next five years to the Alliance for the Great Lakes to expand water quality monitoring in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). The research effort utilizes expertise at Michigan State University’s Institute of Water Research and LimnoTech, while leveraging $600,000 in funding from the Erb Family Foundation. This significant increase in research and monitoring will aid the state’s strategy in developing a plan to combat harmful algal blooms in the WLEB.

Improving our understanding of nutrient losses and transport in the WLEB is essential to accelerating progress on nutrient loading reductions,” said Boring. “Our department has recognized the need for improved water quality monitoring in WLEB. We know that more holistic farm management focusing on soil health and regenerative agriculture principles can be expected to improve nutrient losses. Through the State of Michigan’s Domestic Action Plan adaptive management approach of continuous assessment and improvement, the scientific outcomes of this work improve our ability to make meaningful progress toward water quality improvements.”

LimnoTech’s role, along with Freeboard Technology (a subsidiary of LimnoTech), in this effort will be to monitor the fate and transport of phosphorus as it transits from headwater ditches in heavy agriculturally dominated priority watersheds down towards the mouth and out to Lake Erie. Ed Verhamme, who is leading LimnoTech and Freeboard Technology’s efforts, said, “We’re bringing a fresh approach to monitor agricultural lands at a much higher resolution than traditional methods. This new network will stream data from hundreds of new sensors to better track runoff, sediment, and phosphorus throughout priority watersheds.”

MDARD describes in the press release when and where the monitoring will start:

“Monitoring will begin later this spring in five priority HUC-12 sub-watersheds: Lime Creek, Stony Creek (South Branch River Raisin), Headwaters of the Saline River, Nile Ditch, and the S.S. LaPointe Drain. These subwatersheds were selected for more focused and accelerated activities including finer-scale water quality monitoring, completing agricultural inventories, prioritized BMP implementation, and assessing the costs associated with full implementation to achieve a 40 percent total phosphorus reduction goal. In-stream data collection will include stream flow, total phosphorus and soluble reactive phosphorus, turbidity, and total suspended solids. These gauge stations will be combined with soil moisture, precipitation, and tile outlet sensors deployed through the watershed to better understand the fate and transport of nutrients in the WLEB watershed.”

Key team members from LimnoTech supporting this work include Ed Verhamme, Chris Behnke, Derek Schlea, John Bratton, Chelsie Boles, Ken Gibbons, Greg Cutrell, and Zach Gordon.

You can read the full MDARD Press Release here.

If you have questions or want more information on LimnoTech and Freeboard Technology’s efforts on this project, you can reach out to Ed Verhamme at

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