Every lake or body of water has a watershed – the entire area of surrounding land from which water drains to it. When looking at the problems of Lake Macatawa, we can’t just look at the lakefront – we have to consider the entire watershed.
The Macatawa Watershed is about 175 square miles, covering most of the greater Holland/Zeeland area. Thirteen governmental units are partially or fully located in our watershed. It is roughly circular, and contains hundreds of miles worth of rivers, creeks, drains, and ditches that convey water to Lake Macatawa. It has an urbanized center, with agriculture and non-developed land closer to the edges. Compared to other West Michigan watersheds, like the Grand or Kalamazoo, this watershed is small, a big advantage for trying to fix it.
Lake Macatawa’s polluted state is the result of changes in land use in its watershed. What was once largely wetlands and forest is now our community. While these changes have led to a vibrant community, water now reaches Lake Macatawa much more quickly, carrying any pollutants with it. Steps can be taken to alleviate these problems, but they need to be on the watershed scale.