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Rouge River Watershed

The Rouge River watershed (land drained by the Rouge River) drains 467 square miles.  It has four major branches (Main, Upper, Middle, and Lower) with 126 river miles and numerous tributaries.  In addition to the flowing water, there are more than 400 lakes, impoundments and ponds.

Within the watershed, there are over 1.35 million people in 48 municipalities. Three counties (Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne) are part of the watershed and the land is more than 50% urbanized with less than 25% remaining undeveloped.

How Healthy is the River?

The Rouge River is a very flashy (water levels change drastically and quickly after it rains) system because of the hard clay soils and the large amount of paved surfaces.  Runoff from paved surfaces carries fertilizers, oil, pet waste and other pollutants into the river.  Additionally, there are combined sewers that still overflow into the river at times as well as illicit and illegal discharges.  Industry makes up an additional 2% of the pollution problem.

Despite all these problems, the Rouge has some beautiful and healthy habitat. Many animals and plants make their home in the watershed.  There are eight species of frogs and toads.

Rouge Remedial Action Plan

The Rouge River is one of 43 "Areas of Concern" in the Great Lakes region.  The 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada required the development of a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) to determine use impairments and actions needed to correct them.  The Rouge RAP Advisory Council assists in the attainment of the goals of the RAP.  Meetings are open to the general public.