Health Department

Joel Strasz - Public Health Director
Sarah Tackebury - Nursing and Clinical Services Manager
Emily Nelson - Public Health Nursing Services Manager
Melissa Opheim - Public Health Services Manager/EPC
Amy Revette - WIC Manager
Mark Pickell - Business Services Manager
Joel Kwiatkowski - Environmental Health Manager
Dr. Thomas Bender - Medical Director
Dr. William Morrone - Medical Examiner
Bay County Health Department
1200 Washington Avenue
Bay City, Michigan 48708
Voice: (989) 895-4009
Fax: (989) 895-4014
Health Information Line: (989) 895-4192

Kawkawlin River Watershed Septic System Mapping and Outreach Project

The Kawkawling River Watershed Mapping and Outreach Project aims to improve water quality and public health in the Kawkawlin River Watershed. 

Background Information 

For more than a decade bacterial contamination in the Kawkawlin River Watershed has been a serious concern, impacting total and partial body contact recreation. Since 2005, the Kawkawlin River has been under public health advisories a total of 323 days for excessive levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli).It is also on the 2016 303d list for total body contact recreation.

The Kawkawlin River Watershed Management Plan outlines several items of concern and identifies goals to be implemented to address these concerns.Currently, the Bay County Health Department works on identifying environmental concerns within the watershed area, which includes understanding the health of septic systems and their potential impact to water quality and public health in the watershed.


Project Strategies

Mapping Technologies

Mapping technologies will provide a first of its kind digital, to scale septic system inventory in the watershed that is accessible by the public. This helps regulators use data to gain a better understanding of the health of systems in the watershed.

Each septic system in critical areas of the watershed will be mapped in a digital, to scale format, including the capture of system characteristics such as permit number, tank size, drain field type, install date and more. Homeowners in the watershed will be able to easily view information about their septic system on an interactive map.

The digital septic system inventory will be available to citizens and enable them to access information about septic systems in the watershed on a computer, tablet or smartphone. 


Social Monitoring

Social monitoring tools will be used to measure the impact that the project has on knowledge and behavior of property owners in the watershed. The Health Department will be partnering with the University of Michigan Flint (U of M Flint) to accomplish the social monitoring goals. A random selection of homeowners will receive a survey in the mail to complete and return to U of M Flint


Public Engagement

Ongoing engagement with the public is needed to raise awareness of the impact individual landowners can have on improving water quality. Once the survey is complete, the information will be used to help with educational outreach.

Our mapping partner, Amalgam LLC. has create a website highlighting the project as is progresses. Click on this link to access the website and read more about the project. Once the project is complete all of the mapped septic systems will be available to the public in a digital map format.