Environmental Protection

Aquatic Nuisance Control Permits

Plants are a natural component of every aquatic ecosystem. Excessive plant growth and algae can sometimes be a nuisance to ponds, lakes, streams, wetland areas and storm water detention/retention facilities. In addition, there are several species of aquatic plants that are invasive species, and should be controlled to help maintain a diverse ecosystem. Some of the common aquatic plants that require control in Michigan are:

  • Eurasian Watermilfoil
  • Purple Loosestrife
  • Narrow Leaf Cattail
  • Invasive Phragmites
  • Algae

Chemical Treatment
A permit is required from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) prior to chemically treating nuisance aquatic plants, algae, and swimmer's itch. The only exemption from this permit requirement is treatment of a pond which is less than ten (10) acres, does not have an outlet, and which is owned by only one person or corporation. Even in situations where a permit is not required, only herbicides registered with the MDEQ for use in lakes and ponds may be used. In addition, only applicators with the proper certification credential can apply chemicals to areas with standing water or to water bodies.

It is important to contact OSEH EP3 early in the planning stages of projects that will involve any work in a wetland or water body. Prior to chemically treating for aquatic plants, OSEH must obtain approval from the MDEQ through the permitting process. OSEH will need to know the location for treatment, size of the treatment area, target species, proposed treatment dates, and the MDEQ approved herbicide proposed for use (including any tracer dyes and adjuvant additives). In addition, OSEH will need information on the treatment area including if there is an outlet control structure on the treatment area (such as a riser column in storm water basin) and if there is a continuous flow from the treatment area. Please note that permit approval may take 45 days provided all of the information is accurate, and there are no questions from the MDEQ.

Once approval is obtained, it is the responsibility of the applicator to use only the approved chemical(s) at the approved concentrations. Records must be maintained on the amount of each chemical applied, the location of the application, if any aquatic life (number and species) that were killed by the chemical application, and the dates of application, as this information is required to remit to the MDEQ at the end of the treatment season (November 30th).

Please see the link below for information regarding chemical treatment of Aquatic Nuisance Plants from the MDEQ. http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3313_3681_3710---,00.html

Click on the Permitting Information for the Chemical Treatment of Aquatic Nuisance Plants and/or Algae link under Information to locate the FAQ link and the link to approved chemicals and treatment dosage rates.

Mechanical Removal
Mechanical removal (cutting) of invasive plant species may be completed without a permit provided that it is done without causing earth disturbance to the bottom of wetlands or waters of the State. If mechanical removal will involve pulling the plants from the earth in a regulated area or the use of machinery in a wetland or water body, a MDEQ permit may be necessary. Please contact OSEH well in advance to discuss plant removals in wetlands or surface waters so that a determination can be made regarding the need for a permit. Please note that if a JPA permit is required from the State to work in these areas, it can take several months to obtain.

Prescribed/Controlled Burns
If you are considering treating an area through the use of controlled burns, please note that a burn permit is required from the City of Ann Arbor. This permit should be filled out and reviewed by OSEH to verify that it is complete. Also, a burn prescription will need to be filled out for the project, which includes information on the site size and location, fuel source, fire hydrant locations, anticipated wind speeds, smoke direction, equipment and personnel, etc. In addition, please note that notifications will need to be made to key staff in buildings adjacent to the burn location, as well as to the University Fire Marshall and Department of Public Safety.

The link below is to the Michigan Prescribed Fire Council’s BMP web page.