USGS/GVSU Evaluation

A comprehensive three-year diagnostic evaluation of Silver Lake was conducted by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) from 2012-2015. This evaluation was financed through a combination of state and federal grants, special assessment of lake residents, and with contributions from Golden Township, Oceana County, area businesses and the Friends of Silver Lake Association.

There has been concern about the Silver Lake water quality for the last three decades.  Tests have shown elevated Phosphorous and nutrients in the lake.   Lakes have three classifications:  Oligotrophic, Mesotrophic, and Eutrophic. When a lake reaches the Eutrophic level it means it is nutrient-enriched, which if this is not corrected this will have extremely negative consequences for the future of the lake.  In layman’s terms, it means the lake is dying.  Silver Lake is classified as Eutrophic.

During the summers of 2010 and 2011, water quality in Silver Lake showed a marked decline. The lake was plagued with unsightly algae growth and poor water clarity. Then, in August of 2011, thousands of carp in the lake died from a viral infection. Lake residents wanted action. In order to decide on the best course of action, the Silver Lake Board commissioned the comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to find the causes of the water quality problems in Silver Lake.

Field work on the project began in the fall of 2012 and the project is proceeding according to schedule. The project includes two years of intensive field sampling, followed by one year of data interpretation and a final report of findings. The project was completed in 2015.

Copies of the reports and related material can be found on the link below.

Sewers/USDA Rural Development

Following the USGS/GVSU study determined that there is a need for sewers in the Silver Lake community to reduce nutrients entering the lake.   In February 2017 Golden Township was awarded a grant from the USDA Rural Development to conduct a preliminary engineering and environmental review for installing a sewer system.  This work completed by Prein & Newhof and Stephen’s Consulting.  This analysis involved reviewing the options of a traditional gravity system and a STEP system.  It was determined that the STEP system would be best for Silver Lake.  In June 2018 Golden Township hired Flies & VandenBrink to be the engineers for the proposed sewer system. In August 2018 an application was submitted to USDA Rural Development for financial assistance (grants and low interest loans).  Failing to garner community support, this effort to bring sewers to Silver Lake was ended in early 2019 by the Golden Township Board.

Silver Lake United Voice

In 2019 a grass roots effort began to explore improving individual septic systems in order to lower the nutrients in septic output that are adversely affecting water quality in the lake.  That group is called Silver Lake United Voice and their efforts are documented in the website –

Copies of reports and related materials can be found on the link below.
Related reports, presentation, maps and articles.