US EPA RAP Liaison
U.S. EPA, GLNPO
77 West Jackson Blvd. (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3590
State RAP Contact
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909
Rouge RAP Advisory Council Chair
Livonia, MI 48152
Michigan Statewide Public Advisory Council Representative
5611 Wagoneer Court
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
- AOC Area of Concern
- BUI Beneficial Use Impairment
- CMP/EIS Chemical Management Plan or Environmental Impact Statement
- GLNPO Great Lakes National Program Office
- RAP Remedial Action Plan
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
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The oldest and most heavily populated and industrialized area in southeast Michigan is located within the Rouge River Watershed. The Rouge River has four main branches totaling 125 miles of waterways primarily flowing through Wayne and Oakland counties, with some headwaters in Washtenaw County. The Rouge drains a 438 square mile area that includes more than 400 lakes and ponds, and more than 50 miles of parkland along its banks. The river winds its way through 48 communities and provides recreational opportunities for more than a million people. The lower four miles of the river are maintained as a shipping channel from the turning basin to the river's mouth at the south end of Zug Island.
Rouge River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) priorities include the elimination of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), nonpoint source pollution control, industrial discharge pretreatment, peak storm water discharge reductions and contaminated site restoration.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Beach closings
- Fish tumors or other deformities
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
The Rouge River Watershed covers 1,210 km2 in southeastern Michigan. It includes sections of three counties and encompasses 48 municipalities with a population of 1.5 million people. Degradation of the Rouge River is representative of that found in many urbanized and industrialized areas within the Great Lakes Basin. Over 50% of the land-use is residential, commercial, or industrial, with increasing development pressures in the headwaters. Despite the urbanized and industrial areas within the watershed, there are over 80 km of publicly-owned riparian (i.e., land/bank adjacent to a watercourse) parklands within the northern and western portions of the watershed consisting mainly of suburban and rural land uses. Urban storm water discharges, CSOs, nonpoint source pollution, and municipal and industrial discharges all contribute to the Rouge River Area of Concern (AOC) beneficial use impairments (BUIs).
For further information on Rouge River BUIs, see the RAP documents listed in the Significant RAP Milestones section.
The 2004 Rouge River RAP Revision (PDF) (153pp, 3.9MB) includes initial delisting criteria for several of the identified BUIs, some of which may be ready for formal delisting in the near future. The Rouge River RAP Advisory Council (RRAC) has received funding from the Great Lakes Commission to refine delisting criteria to reflect knowledge of the BUIs. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is working with the RRAC to evaluate the current delisting criteria for consistency with Michigan's statewide delisting guidance (PDF 508Kb, 61 pages) RAP Development and Status
RAP Development and Status
The Rouge River RAP was completed in 1989 and has been heralded as a model for community involvement and public support. The RAP was updated in 1994 and 1998, and revised in 2004. Since 1999, the RRAC has also been using a progress report card as a mechanism to help celebrate implementation of remedial projects, make mid-course corrections, provide public accountability, and further develop the RAP. The RRAC released the 2005 Rouge River Report Card in October 2005.
Significant RAP Milestones
- 2010: Lower Rouge River Investigation
- 2004: Rouge River RAP Revision (PDF) (PDF 3.88Mb, 153 pages) completed.
- 1998: Rouge River RAP Progress Report (PDF) (120pp, 7.1MB) completed.
- 1994: Rouge River RAP Update (PDF) (156pp, 8.4MB) completed.
- 1992: Rouge River RAP Progress Report (PDF) (33pp, 1.5MB) completed.
- 1990: Remedial Action Plan for the Rouge River Basin (PDF) (146pp, 4.9MB) completed.
Recent progress and achievements
- In 2004, the Rouge River RAP was updated. The plan defined
an ambitious 20-year program of actions needed to realize the
vision of: "A Rouge River that is aesthetically pleasing, clean
and safe, that supports a healthy, diverse fish and wildlife
community, and that provides an enriching variety of
- Rouge River monitoring has continued to show improved water
quality and overall ecosystem health. Dissolved oxygen levels
are higher at most monitoring stations compared to five years
ago. Bacteria counts are declining. There have been numerous
habitat restoration and streambank stabilization projects
conducted throughout the watershed.
- All 10 of the CSO retention/ treatment basins planned under
Phase 1 of the Rouge watershed CSOs control program are in
operation and are removing a significant source of untreated
sewage overflow to the Rouge River. A total of 77 of the 83
Phase I CSO outfalls are now under control or have been
eliminated by sewer separation. The City of Dearborn also
continued work on its CSO control program by initiating
construction of innovative deep shaft storage and treatment
facilities in the West Dearborn area (Phase A) and continuing
design of projects in the West Dearborn Phase B and East
Dearborn areas. The City of Detroit Upper Rouge Tunnel is under
- Thirty-six new grant-funded community projects were awarded
in 2004, 32 of which were completed, and all are consistent with
the seven Rouge subwatershed management plans.
- More than 120 illegal sanitary sewer connections to storm drainage systems and other illicit discharges have been identified and eliminated in the watershed.
Current projects and outlook
- In 2005, the Friends of
the Rouge (FOTR)
received a U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office grant to
develop a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS)
database of critical habitat areas to use as a tool to set
measurable restoration and delisting goals for habitat.
- The FOTR received a MDEQ volunteer monitoring grant in 2004 to continue its Rouge River Benthic Monitoring and Frog and Toad Survey programs; this work is ongoing.
- 2005: 2005 Rouge River Report Card (PDF) (4pp, 8.6MB)
- 2004: Review of Year 2004 – Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project Report (PDF) (153pp, 3.9MB)
- 1999: 1999 Rouge River Report Card (PDF) (49pp, 2.7MB)
The Rouge River RAP is a watershed-wide effort that is led by the MDEQ in partnership with other stakeholders. The institutional structure includes: MDEQ staff with responsibilities to implement the RAP and assess restoration progress; a Rouge Program Office created for the Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project; technical advisory groups; a Rouge River Steering Committee to oversee implementation activities with the Voluntary Stormwater Permit; and the RRAC to advise the MDEQ and assist in updating and implementing the RAP. The RRAC includes representatives of industry, environmental interests, citizens, universities, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, local and county governments, and parks and health departments.