River Raisin Area of Concern
River Raisin Area of Concern
U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
U.S. EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3507
State RAP Contact
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909
River Raisin PAC Chair
Monroe County Drain Commissioner
1005 South Raisinville Road
Monroe, MI 48161
The River Raisin Area of Concern (AOC) is located in the southeastern portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula in Monroe County. The AOC has been defined as the lower (2.6 miles) portion of the River Raisin, downstream from the low head dam (Dam #6) at Winchester Bridge in the City of Monroe, extending one-half mile out into Lake Erie following the Federal Navigation Channel and along the nearshore zone of Lake Erie, both north and south, for one mile.
River Raisin priorities include remediation of PCB contaminated sediments, nonpoint source pollution control, and elimination of CSOs.
- U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality began a River Raisin Legacy Act dredging to remove approximately 110,000 cubic yards of PCB contaminated sediments from the River Raisin AOC.
- The Nature Conservancy is restoring 225 acres of prairie fen and oak savanna within four southern Michgian watersheds by removing invasive plants, reintroducing fire, restoring natural hydrology, and creating corridors of habitat.
- MDEQ will reduce nitrate loads to the River Raisin, which flows into Lake Erie.
- The City of Monroe, Michigan will install fish passage structures at four dams along a 3.5 mile stretch of the River Raisin, where it runs into Lake Erie. The River Raisin Dam Remediation project is expected to result in the delisting of several Beneficial Use Impairments in this Area of Concern.
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources will repair dikes and instal water control structures for 310 acres of marsh at Sterling State Park. They will improve habitat for shorebirds and control the invasion of phragmites.
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Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Beach closings
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process for the River Raisin AOC identified nine of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement's 14 beneficial uses as being impaired. The beneficial use impairments (BUIs) identified include Restrictions on Fish & Wildlife Consumption, Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations, Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems, Degradation of Benthos, Restrictions on Dredging Activities, Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae, Beach Closings, Degradation of Aesthetics, and Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat.
These impairments have been primarily caused by historical discharges of oils and grease, heavy metals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to the river from industrial facilities in the area. Additionally, industrial and municipal waste disposal sites adjacent to the river are suspected of contaminating the river.
For further information on River Raisin BUIs, see the RAP documents listed in the Significant RAP Milestones section below.
The 2002 River Raisin RAP Update (draft) (PDF) (21pp, 851K) includes qualitative goals for the restoration of BUIs in the River Raisin AOC. In 2006, the River Raisin Public Advisory Council (PAC) will decide whether to adopt the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern (PDF) (61pp, 508K) , or to refine the criteria to reflect local goals.
RAP Development and Status
The first River Raisin RAP (PDF) (188pp, 6.1MB) document was completed and sent to the International Joint Commission in 1987. The purpose of the document was to compile and analyze existing river data and to recommend actions for addressing known environmental problems associated with the River Raisin AOC. Among numerous causes of water quality impairment, the RAP identified contaminated sediments from PCBs as the primary pollutant of concern.
In 2002, the RAP was updated to provide a current assessment of water quality in the AOC. The River Raisin RAP Update (draft) (PDF) (21pp, 851K) identified nine BUIs for the River Raisin AOC.
Significant RAP Milestones
- 2002: River Raisin RAP Update (draft) (PDF 851Kb 21 pages) completed. The RAP update highlighted recent remedial actions completed in the AOC and provided a brief status of each BUI.
- 1993: The River Raisin PAC formed to assist MDEQ staff on all phases of the RAP project. Membership consists of citizens representing a wide range of interests such as local government, businesses, industries, and environmental groups. The PAC has initiated a number of activities to benefit not only the AOC, but the entire River Raisin watershed.
- 1992: A River Raisin RAP Team was formed primarily to deal with technical issues associated with the project. Membership consists of representatives from various federal, state and local agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, MDEQ, Michigan Department of Community Health, Monroe County Health Department and Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District.
- 1987: The RAP for River Raisin (PDF 6.13Mb 188 pages) was completed and submitted to the IJC. The purpose of the RAP was to compile and analyze existing river data and to recommend actions needed to address known problems.
Recent progress and achievements
- 2005: The Automotive Components Holdings, LLC (ACH) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into a cooperative management agreement to incorporate 240 acres of coastal wetlands, called Eagle Island Marsh, into the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The Eagle Island Marsh is located behind the ACH’s plant and is bordered by Sterling State Park to the north. This large wetland complex is unique to the region and contains marshland, transitional meadows and forested wetlands. Eagle Island Marsh supports significant beds of the threatened American Lotus, a pale yellow flower that is the nation's largest aquatic wildflower, and is the official clean water symbol of the State of Michigan.
- 2004: The City of Monroe was awarded an MDEQ Coastal Management Program grant to conduct a field assessment of all open waterways within the city. This comprehensive assessment will identify fish and wildlife habitat and water quality BUIs, identify best management practices to address the BUIs, and will provide a means to implement natural resource conservation programs to restore the BUIs.
- 2004: The MDEQ nominated the River Raisin AOC for project funding consideration under the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The nomination is currently pending action by the U.S. EPA Superfund program.
- 2003-04: The MDEQ and U.S. EPA conducted pre- and post-navigational dredging surveys for PCBs. Sampling included volatile organics, metals, PCBs, oil and grease, whole sediment bioaccumulation test, caged fish, and edible portion fish tissue sampling. PCBs from the turning basin downstream were identified as the main contamination "hot spot". The studies indicated that there is significant potential for uptake of PCBs into the food web. An addendum was completed for the remedial alternatives evaluation report, recommending dredging of contaminated sites, particularly the turning basin, in the AOC.
- 2003: The River Raisin Watershed Council was awarded $12,800 in grant funds to conduct a benthic macroinvertebrate community and stream habitat assessment in the River Raisin Watershed.
- 2007: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Biennial Remedial Action Plan Update for the River Raisin Area of Concern (PDF) (20pp, 281K)
- 2004: MACTEC Remedial Alternatives Evaluation Report Addendum
- 2003: Post Remedial Sediment Sampling on the River Raisin near Monroe, Michigan – Final Results from 2001-2002 Survey: PCB Chemistry, Caged Fish and Bioaccumulation Results (PDF) (52pp, 1.4MB)
- 2002: MACTEC Final Remedial Alternatives Evaluation
- 2002: MDEQ Total Maximum Daily Load for Escherichia coli for the River Raisin, Lenawee County (PDF) (16pp, 120K)
- 2001: River Raisin GeoBook
- 1998: River Raisin Assessment (PDF) (114pp, 514K)