posted April 23, 2014

Documentary Includes Members of Hope Community and Research

Hope research and multiple members of the campus community are featured in the documentary “Clarity: Restoring the Macatawa Watershed,” airing on WGVU-TV 35. Its final airing will be Monday.

The documentary discusses Project Clarity, a regional effort to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution in Lake Macatawa by 70 percent.  The hour-long program will air on Wednesday, April 23, at 11 p.m.; on Sunday, April 27, at 5 p.m.; and on Monday, April 28, at 1 a.m.  The program, and more information about Project Clarity, is also available for viewing online at macatawaclarity.org.

Hope faculty and students were centrally involved in a research study that began in 2011 to identify the sources and character of the sediment and pollution affecting the watershed en route to developing solutions.  The collaborative effort to better understand and ultimately address the lake’s pollution received support through a $500,000 grant from a group of private donors to the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.

The Hope researchers collected samples from throughout the watershed to help provide a detailed understanding of where the pollution is entering the lake.  The effort included establishing 43 sites for collecting sediment samples, and 11 sites for collecting E. coli samples, and then applying advanced testing techniques to zero in on where the pollution originated.

The documentary includes a historical overview of the watershed and settlement in the area, analysis of the development of the problems affecting the lake, and discussion of remedies and remediation.  Among the members of the campus community featured in the documentary are Dr. Graham Peaslee, who is the Elmer E. Hartgerink Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Geology/Environmental Science; Dr. Robert Swierenga, who is the A.C. Van Raalte Research Professor and adjunct professor of history senior research fellow with the A.C. Van Raalte Institute; and Dr. James E. Bultman, president emeritus of Hope.  Numerous others are interviewed as well, including Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra; Travis Williams, a 1998 graduate who is executive director of the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway; Jennifer Soukhome, a teacher at Zeeland West High School who conducted research at Hope on the watershed with Peaslee; and Dan Callam, a 2009 Hope graduate who did research on the watershed with Peaslee and is now a watershed technician with the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.