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Posted on Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 9 a.m.

Washtenaw County groups honored for 'environmental excellence': Chrysler Proving Grounds takes top honor

By Washtenaw County Public Health


Jeff Krcmarik

Washtenaw County has many agencies and businesses that demonstrate excellent behaviors when it comes to environmental sustainability. In recognition of Pollution Prevention Week, some of these businesses and agencies are recognized as Environmental Excellence winners.

The Environmental Excellence Program at Washtenaw County is a cooperative effort between the Water Resource Commissioner's Office and the Washtenaw County Public Health Department to formally recognize and present awards to representatives of these businesses and agencies.

This year at the Oct. 5 Ways and Means meeting of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, five local agencies were presented with awards. There are three categories that are considered and one overall winner that practices behaviors in all three paradigms of environmental sustainability. The three areas of environmental sustainability are water quality protection, recycling and waste reduction, and pollution prevention.

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Environmental Excellence Winners.

ITC Holdings Corp was awarded the environmental excellence award for Pollution Prevention. The county's Pollution Prevention ordinance requires inspections and oversees reporting of hazardous materials in local businesses to assure compliance with local state, and national laws.

The Leslie Science and Nature Center was awarded the environmental excellence award for Waste Reduction and Recycling. The Leslie Science and Nature Center displays how they reused materials to reduce consumption and have implemented waste reduction infrastructure. Their education center demonstrates to those attending how to make a difference in waste reduction and recycling.

The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission is the winner of the Water Quality Protection category.

A few of the exemplary water quality protection measures practiced at all of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission facilities include their streambank stabilization program, on-site composting at park facilities, maintaining natural vegetation around large bodies of water, wetland creation along County Farm Park drain and reducing their use of hazardous materials. The Parks Commission is, through its Natural Areas Program, saving key environmentally sensitive lands.

An honorable mention in Water Quality Protection was awarded to Horiba Instruments Inc. They were cited for their use of native landscaping and creating riparian buffers around the ponds on their property. The firm has been a member of the Community Partners for Clean Streams Program since 2008.

The overall winner of the 2011 Environmental Excellence awards is presented to a business that has shown exemplary behaviors in all three categories. The Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea is this year’s winner. Over the past few years they have:

  • Addressed pollution prevention at the source through resource conservation, recycling and energy efficiency
  • Instituted an aggressive phosphorus reduction program which included restricting or replacing products with high levels of phosphorus. These efforts have resulted in a measureable phosphorus reduction to the water discharging to Mill Creek - Middle Huron River Watershed.
  • Instituted a comprehensive spill response plan which includes regular training and evaluation;
  • Have established ongoing catch basin maintenance and waste disposal program
  • Composted lawn clippings, and no fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides have been used onsite since 2007.
  • Selected the least hazardous chemicals to use throughout the building
  • Gone from large quantity generator status to small quantity general status for hazardous waste by repurposing test track fuel
  • Drastically cut energy consumption in 2009 through changes to performing work during peak times.

Congratulations to all awardees!

Jeff Krcmarik is an Environmental Health Supervisor. He can be reached at 734-222-6865.