Friday, November 21, 2014

FOIA Request Seeks Explanation of Inconsistent Erosion Control Standards

Fourth in a Series

Five or six months ago, I observed a puzzling dichotomy in the enforcement by public officials of soil erosion controls at construction sites in several nearby communities.  The justification for the divergent standards remains unclear.

The following Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on November 12, 2014. A nearly identical request was emailed to the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner (OCWRC) the same day.  As of this writing, no substantive response has been received from either.

FOIA Coordinator  
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality


One of my interests is water quality.  Last spring, I visited construction sites in a number of Oakland County municipalities to observe the extent of soil erosion.

Some of those municipalities are recognized by the State of Michigan as Municipal Enforcement Agencies (MEAs) as concerns silt runoff.  In the other municipalities, the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner (OCWRC) administers the state erosion control program as County Enforcement Agency (CEA).

What was remarkable to me was that the MEAs had required silt fence at most if not all construction sites, while cities under OCWRC supervision had little if any silt fence deployed.

It might appear to some that building contractors working in municipalities subject to OCWRC oversight have a license to pollute.

Pursuant to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, please furnish me with a copy of all records created or obtained by your department within the timeframe of January 1, 2014 to present that contain a rationale for the difference between the strict water quality and erosion control enforcement in MEAs and the lax enforcement by OCWRC in its role as CEA, as that rationale relates to Michigan waters and the public trust.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

-- Jim Lang
(address and phone)

I encourage readers to make inquiries of their own about Michigan soil erosion prevention and enforcement practices.

MDEQ recently posted its 2015 Soil Erosion & Construction Storm Water Training Schedule.  Go to their soil erosion home page at and click the first link under the training header, or click on:,4561,7-135-3311_4113-267079--,00.html.  

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