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Our Watershed

What is a Watershed?

Press map to open the Rouge River Digital Terrain Model for exploration!

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a body of water. The Rouge River Watershed, in southeast Michigan, drains 467 square miles into the Detroit River. It has four major branches (Main, Upper, Middle, and Lower) with 127 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 47 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.

Cleanup History

In 1985, the Rouge River was designated one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern, because “…significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level (www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs).” This led to the formation of the Rouge River Advisory Council in 1992 and in 1993 the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project was created to administer several hundred million dollars to demonstrate stormwater remediation in an urban watershed.

Land Acknowledgement

To demonstrate respect, raise awareness, and affirm the ongoing relationships between indigenous people and the land, we acknowledge the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands on which our watershed exists.

  • Meškwahki·aša·hina (Fox)
  • Peoria
  • Anishinabewaki
  • Bodéwadmiakiwen (Potawatomi)
  • Myaamia
  • Mississuaga

Mississuagua Pap courtesy of native-land.ca

Map from native-land.ca.

Rouge River Watershed Welcome Packet

Watershed Welcome Packet as Individual Page Downloads

Watershed Threats

Watershed History

Thank you to Theresa Benton, Esther Ladkau, and Julie Arbit for creating this Rouge River Case Study for the University of Michigan in 2020 and 2021, hosted by LearnGala.

Rouge River Case Study

More About Our Watershed

Regional Projects

Report on Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project 1992-2014