From left, Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds board members Ruth Ricard of Haas Lake RV Park, Gary Becker of Indigo Bluffs and Bob Rohn of Lake of Dreams Campground with Travel Michigan Vice President David West

From left, Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds board members Ruth Ricard of Haas Lake RV Park, Gary Becker of Indigo Bluffs and Bob Rohn of Lake of Dreams Campground with Travel Michigan Vice President David West

The new person in charge of the highly successful ‘Pure Michigan’ marketing campaign told nearly 30 campground owners Wednesday (Dec. 10) he has no intention of stemming the momentum. In fact, he’s looking to take the campaign even further.

“I’m really excited to help promote Michigan camping to the entire world,” said Travel Michigan Vice President David West, who’s only been on the job since Dec. 1 after succeeding the retired George Zimmerman.

Most recently the vice president of marketing for the Pocono Mountains Visitor Bureau, West promised a new www.michigan.org website sometime in the near future and told the members of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) that he’s well aware of the key role camping plays in the state’s tourism industry.

“The campground industry, both traditional camping and RV camping as well, is such a vital component to the Pure Michigan experience,” West said. “It really is a key component because there is such a high demand for that market. With us having the resources and the organization to help support it, that’s when it really starts to take off. We want to help support it as much as we can and give visitors from in-state and outside the state as much information as we can so they can go and check out the entire state and have that experience.”

West was among a handful of speakers at a meeting and holiday luncheon Wednesday (Dec. 10) hosted by MARVAC in Okemos, Mich.

Other speakers at the MARVAC meeting included MLive.com Chief Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa, who explained how campground owners can monitor the weather forecasts for the safety of their guests; Cheryl Russell of All Seasons Communications, who provided tips on using social media; and MARVAC General Counsel William Perrone, who fielded questions from the audience on trespassing and other issues.

Two other speakers, Carrie Monosmith and Paul Sisson, were both from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Sisson provided an update on efforts by the committee tasked with revising and updating the act governing the state’s 1,300 campgrounds, while Monosmith gave a detailed overview of new public water supply regulations and the revised total coliform rule set to go into effect April 1, 2016.

The water system changes affecting campground owners can be confusing, so Monosmith said the state DEQ office is working diligently to ensure a smooth transition to the new regulations. A number of regional meetings will be held this summer to help explain the changes, and she emphasized the absolute need for all campgrounds to be on board prior to the new rules going into effect.

The main change is how often campground owners will need to take samples of their water systems, Monosmith explained. Although several details need to be worked out, including clarification from the federal government on a few issues, owners of campgrounds with fewer than 1,000 guests at a time will be required to provide quarterly samples. Campgrounds with more 1,000 guests at a time will need to provide monthly samples. Each sample must be taken during peak usage, such as a holiday weekend.

Another change is the testing will look for the more dangerous E. coli bacteria rather than simply measuring for total coliform. Also, if the testing determines amounts exceeding the maximum allowable threshold, stepped-up monitoring is put into effect. Still another change is for campground owners with a seasonal water system to have an approved start-up procedure in place. Monosmith provided a draft of such a procedure to the audience, saying it’s the DEQ’s intent to have all campgrounds using the same template.

“This hits Michigan very hard,” she said because the revisions target seasonal water systems, which are found in the vast majority of the state’s campgrounds. “The EPA, quite honestly, came down pretty hard on seasonal water supply.”