Muskegon Lake was designated an EPA Area of Concern in 1987 because of water quality and habitat impairments associated with the historical discharge of pollutants into the AOC, and the potential adverse effect the pollutants could have on Lake Michigan. One of the projects that was designed and constructed to aid in the AOC delisting is the Bear Creek Hydrologic Reconnection and Wetland Restoration. At this site, 36 acres of former celery farm had been diked off and disconnected from Bear Creek, which flows into Bear Lake, Muskegon Lake, and then Lake Michigan. The goal of this project was to reconnect the 36 acres to the creek and restore the wetlands.
However, phosphorus levels in the water column of the site were extremely high, which was especially important because Bear Lake has a total maximum daily load for phosphorus. This meant that the site could not be hydrologically reconnected until phosphorus levels were adequately lowered. GEI Consultants worked with the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission and Grand Valley State Annis Water Resources Institute to design the wetland restoration. The final design included dewatering of over 60 million gallons of water and excavation of approximately 150,000 cubic yards of soil. After construction in 2016, total phosphorus in the water was reduced by over 90%. The hydrologic reconnection was made in March, 2017, and native plants and woody habitat structures have been installed throughout the site.