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Illicit and Illegal Discharges

An illicit discharge is the introduction of polluting materials into a pipe that drains to surface water or the dumping of polluting material that can impact surface water. Examples found in the Rouge River watershed include toilets connected to storm sewers, laundry waste discharging to a drain, swimming pool backwash water discharging to a storm sewer or situations where polluting material can move over land to a storm sewer.

Illegal discharges may also take place, such as the one responsible for the large oil spill on the Rouge and Detroit Rivers in 2002. Careless and intentional acts of illicit and illegal dumping are not only expensive to remedy, but they can also have long term affects on the health of the river.

If you see an illicit or illegal discharge, please report it immediately. If the dumping is going on while you are there, call 911.

For more important numbers to call and other signs of illicit discharge, see SEMCOG’s IDEP Tip Card.

24 Hour Hotlines

Call this one first

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (formerly the MDEQ)

Pollution Emergency Alerting System (PEAS)


Call this one first especially if not during normal working hours, then call the appropriate County.

Oakland County: 248.858.0931
Washtenaw County: 734.222.3880
Wayne County: 888.223.2363

National Response Center: 800.424.8802

Is This Natural?

Click on each photo to enlarge for more info or download the PDF. If you are not sure if something in the river or water body is natural, please do still call to report it!


Download Algae PDF


Download Bacteria PDF


Download Foam PDF


Download Pollen PDF


Download Whiting PDF