The Care and Maintenance of our Cuddy

At yesterday’s final meeting, Dan Fredricks left this, for future generations to be able to find the documents and directions they need to maintain the Cuddy in tip-top shape!

Click on the blue link below to open the file:

Cuddy ICD – Final O&M Plan 





Detour For Locals: A Map

In case you haven’t discovered the 127th Ave-to-1st St connection yet:



(I don’t want to hear anyone whine about being detoured all the way west to 6th St when the Patterson Bridge is replaced.  Here’s your shortcut.  Please drive carefully,  the road is scenic but narrow and there’s a car-eating ditch on the west side of the road)

PFDs and Water Toys

I know – this has nothing to do with weeds or dams or cooties. It’s my Blog – I get to pick the topics 😉 But this one is important!

At this morning’s Annual GLPA meeting, the subject of PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices or “lifejackets”) came up. According to the Barry County Marine Patrol, anything that carries a person across the water, whether towed, paddled, pedaled, or sailed, is considered a “watercraft”. This includes things like Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUPs), kayaks, paddleboats, and kiteboards. As watercraft, they are subject to the same rules as boats, most importantly, that a Coast Guard-approved PFD per person be on board.

I’ve seen a LOT of SUPs out on the lake lately, with no PFDs. Being tethered to the board doesn’t count as your PFD.

On a watercraft less than 16′ long (most water toys), a Coast Guard-approved Type IV device known as a throwable ring or “seat cushion” is allowed per person, provided the person is 6 yrs old or older. (Of course, a Type I, II, or III PFD is allowable, too) Children under the age of 6 MUST WEAR a Type I or Type II PFD.

PFD “Jacket” Types:

Type I, also called Offshore Life Jackets – have large neck collars and maximum flotation.

Type II: these are the most common PFDs. Inexpensive, they have a collar that goes behind the neck; and the flotation is held close to the chest by straps. Both Type I and II PFDs are designed to ideally turn an unconscious person on their back and keep them face up

Type III: these have no neck collar, have flotation on the front and back; and are commonly known as “Ski Jackets”. They are NOT approved for kids under 6 yrs old.

Now, all that being said, if the grandkids are just pushing a paddleboard around the beachfront, it’s pretty doubtful the Marine Patrol is going to come over and give out a ticket.  They ARE nice people!  But if the paddleboard is being propelled past the dock – then it becomes a “watercraft” and subject to the rules mentioned above.

Water Testing Weeks 4 and 5

OK – I’m confused; but so glad I have Aaron Snell of Streamside Ecological Services to make sense of all this data I’ve gathered. I do understand that there are things beyond my control that can skew numbers, like some indecent raccoon pooping upstream from where I’m taking water samples……

Anyway – here are the final two weeks of water sampling data as measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units/100 ml):

……………………………………………….Sept 9th                         Sept 15th

4th St North*                                                          276                                 548

M-179                                                                      348                                 178

Timber Creek north (Cuddy)                             340                                 192

Timber Creek south (Boot Lk)                           901                                  472

Tawsley    (along 1st St)                                        166                                  178

1st St  (upstream)                                                   777                                  509

Patterson                                                                 752                                  1507

*The 4th St location isn’t sampled in 3 separate locations, nor part of the “official database” – it’s just to help verify the numbers at M-179

Ignoring the 4th St sample – everything is down nicely EXCEPT Patterson and I sure don’t  know why that sample jumped upward??  So confused.  I don’t think a wayward incontinent raccoon would be able to taint the volume of water at three test points ???  Very confusing.   And I can’t even explain the lovely overall drop in E-coli.  The water temperature was much lower than the previous week – but I’ve read that E-coli can survive VERY cold temps.     My brain wants to explode.

Did I mention that I was confused?   🙂




Water Testing Weeks 2 and 3 (Updated)

We had received over 2″ of rain a day-and-a-half before I sampled on Aug 27th; so it came as no surprise that the numbers were somewhat lowered, simply by dilution:  (I’m posting the average of 3 samples)

M-179 (Cuddy):  558.13 CFUs (colony forming units)

Timber Creek N (Cuddy):  583.8

Timber Creek S (Boot lake):  718.3

Tawsley (along 1st):  372.73

1st St upstream: 1179.23

Patterson:  777.2

Knowing these samples were taken after a deluge, implies to me that this year, we’re not getting a runoff problem because the fields within the watershed were not fertilized with manure this year.  Last year, we got reading above 2400 CFUs at several locations after a heavy rainfall.


Tuesday Sept 2, 2014

A few pictures from today’s mosquito-infested water sampling – I’ll add the results when I get them tomorrow.

Sept2.TCN2This is a game called “Find The Gage”.  Somewhere over that lovely field of Goldenrod (yeah, I’m allergic, but it’s better than the masses of Poison Ivy at 1st St), there’s the Cuddy Drain…….


Sept2.TCN1There it is!  See?  This is more fun than “Where’s Waldo”….  Once I find it, I record the depth of the water; the temp of the water (always remarkably cold!) and take 3 samples of water: one from the left “third”, one from the center, and one from the right “third”.


Sept2.m179Here’s another, hidden about 150′ off the road, back in the puckerbrush.  I finally learned to bring along an old snow ski pole to use as a hiking stick, clambering out of the creek isn’t easy in hip boots.


Sept2.First rerouteNow this is just exciting!!!:  the Allegan Drain folks have been re-routing the Tawsley Drain along 1st St!  My car is facing south: the old drain line is still operating, but you can see the new one waiting to be opened at its southern end.  This will allow for a wider bridge over 1st St – and more importantly – it keeps part of the Tawsley AWAY from the gravel road bed and shoulders, which is where a  LOT of erosion came from last Spring after heavy rains.  If you happen to meet Denise Medemar, Allegan Drain Commissioner – thank her profusely!!  (Of course, all this upcoming construction means I have to HIKE up the Cuddy  to get to the gage, which has been placed far from harm’s way….)


Sept2.4thCan you see it?  Now we play “Where’s Water?” – not “Where’s Waldo?”  By this time of year, the water flow is pretty scant at 4th St north of M-179….LOL!  This little trickle is about 6″ wide and 5″ deep.  I took just one sample from this pretty little source of the Cuddy.  Yes, I said “pretty” – in spite of the numbers indicating folks should NOT be splashing around in it – the Cuddy and its companion drains are still lovely to look at!


And here are the results – keep in mind the higher numbers are probably reflecting the lower water levels (not as much dilution as last week):

4th St north of M-179:  649 CFUs  (this was the random sample)

M-179:  1455*

Timber Creek north (Cuddy):  812

Timber Creek south (Boot ):  977.3

Tawsley (along 1st St):  608.3

1st St upstream:  1468.66

Patterson:  1338

*This is a large increase for such a small stream.   Time to start poking around….



All The Water Data You Can Stand! (updated)

It has begun!

Months ago, I had promised Aaron Snell, the Environmental Engineer working on the Cuddy and Bridge Replacement Project, that I would do water sampling, gage*-logging, whatever-it-takes to get the Cuddy cleaned up – and yesterday was Day One of that aspect of the project!

This is a little different than my previous samplings – I won’t be standing on top of a culvert dipping bottles; I get to hike cross-country (or up the drain itself) to locations that will be far enough away from any construction sites to affect the samples. And it will be sampled every week. This will give us a very detailed look at the e-coli levels!

Since the data we are gathering will go to the State DEQ (or county Health Departments when necessary) – it has to be more precise than what I had been carrying out on my own. There are 6 sites that are sampled; and 3 water samples are drawn at each location. We noted water depth on the gages* he installed, water temperature (remarkably cold!); and whether the sample was taken from the left, center, or right side of the stream. All the samples are put into a cooler to chill; and get hustled to Grand Rapids and Summit Labs.

I will post the results when I get them!

*I know how to spell “gauge” – but the usual word for things that measure water depth is “gage”. Why? I have no clue. Ask NOAA or the USGS.

And here are the results (rough averages of the 3 samples collected):

South of M-179 on the Cuddy:  1028.96 (all number reflect MPN/CFUs: “most probable number of colony forming units”)

Timber Creek north (Cuddy): 1150.93

Timber Creek south (Gardner): 1496.43

Tawsley along 1st St:  537.03

1st St upstream (doesn’t include Tawsley):  1528.57

Patterson:  1608.12

Just for giggles – below Patterson about 75′ (Seagly’s dock):  1553.1  (I’m astonished this didn’t drop more once the drain hit the channel)

Anything over 300 CFUs is “no body contact”.  No swimming in the drain this weekend, kids…..

First Water Test of 2014

Cootie Lab Mar 30, 2014

Cootie Lab Mar 30, 2014

I’m “cooking” again – not in the sense of Julia Child or “Breaking Bad”; but currently incubating water samples.  I took samples from 5 points along the Cuddy Drain; a sample from the Tawsley/Holbrook Drain; and 2 from the Boot Lake Drain.  I should see a “preview” in 24 hours, and will have a final count in 48 hours.

I took this picture to show that I do this carefully: I use sterile 100 ml sample bottles; I use sterile/disposable 1.7 ml pipettes (using one per sample); my fingers never touch the 3-M Petrifilm media.  And when I’m done – EVERYTHING gets cleaned with Clorox (particularly the dip pole that reaches into the water with the sample bottle).

It was a perfect day for sampling water.  Cold enough (32-degrees air temp) that there was no melting going on, nor had it rained in the previous 24 hours.  This is early enough in the year, that there has been no manure spread in the fields.  I could finally, physically GET to the water – snowbanks are down to 18″ or less.  And lastly – the Cuddy wasn’t frozen over, (which it has been for months at some sites).  And it just looked happy.  Not swollen with floodwater, nor dried up like last fall.  The water is clear and cold (31.7 degrees).  Now we’ll just wait and see how safe it is.

Mr Mlynarchek, who owns the farm that the Cuddy crosses just before it goes under the Patterson bridge, stopped and chatted with me as I was testing at 1st St.  We had a nice talk – he’s as concerned as I am about the woody debris still laying along the Tawsley/Holbrook Drain.  He politely challenged me to sample some other creeks in the area, to get a feel for what levels of e-coli those might be carrying; and he’s right.  I’ll be adding a few outside samples on my next collection.

I will add the results of the water tests to this post on Tuesday April 1st.  (An unfortunate date, but I assure you there will be no joking – e-coli just isn’t funny).


Added Monday Mar 31st: I just did a preliminary look at my samples; and of the 15 plates in the incubator – only 1 presently is showing e-coli, and it would indicate a level of 100 CFUs (“Colony Forming Units”) per 100 ml.  A nice safe level, and about 10 times lower than the “average” count I got last year.   I’ll do a final read tomorrow, in case I have any “late-blooming” colonies; but I think it’s safe to assume that the Cuddy is a healthy little creek right now.  YAY!!!!!!


Tuesday’s Final  E-coli Count:  All samples taken from the upstream side of culverts, “river center”.

Patterson: 0

Tawsley: 0

Cuddy @ 1st St: 0

Timber Creek Cuddy/north: 0

Timber Creek Boot Lake/south: 100 cfu/100ml

M-179: 0

4th St North: 0

4th St South: 0

WOOHOO!!  Now THAT’S what we like to see!!!!!!!!