New resources on Michigan’s natural freshwater phenomena now available

New resources on Michigan’s natural freshwater phenomena now available


The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) frequently receives complaints and inquiries related to pollution in Michigan lakes, rivers, and streams. This can include reports such as paint being dumped, oil sheens in the water, soap suds washing up on the beach, or milk being spilled. Often these reports are not related to pollution but are phenomena that occur naturally in Michigan’s waters.

natural lake foam

Naturally occurring phenomena are events that happen in nature not directly influenced or caused by human actions, and it is not uncommon to see these events in Michigan. EGLE has identified several naturally occurring phenomena that frequently occur in Michigan’s lakes, rivers and streams and has developed new web pages and revised guidance to help you determine if what you discovered is part of the natural environment or pollution.

EGLE’s new naturally occurring phenomena main web page provides a short summary of common phenomena that includes algae, bacteria, foam, pollen, and whiting events, as well as links to additional information on each one. Each of the individual web pages provides a deeper explanation of the phenomenon, how to determine if what you are seeing is naturally occurring, examples, color photographs, if they should be reported, and a downloadable brochure.

Of course, spills and pollution events do also occur in Michigan. If you believe you have found human-induced pollution, please report it to EGLE’s Pollution Emergency Alert System at (800) 292-4706.


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Jorge Oliveira