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Clinton River

Contact Information

U.S. EPA RAP Liaison:
Laura Evans
(evans.laura@epa.gov)
312-886-0851
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 5 Office of Regional Counsel
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (C-14J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3507

State RAP Contact:
Laura A. Esman (esmanl@michigan.gov)
517-241-8878
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909

Clinton River PAC Chair:
Mark Richardson
(mark.richardson@macombcountymi.gov)
586-469-5593
Macomb County Prosecutor's Office
One S. Main Street 3rd Floor
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

Local Coordinators
William Smith
586-468-4028
Clinton River PAC Vice Chair and Michigan SPAC Representative
49 Breitmeyer
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

Anne Vaara
(contact@crwc.org)
248-601-0606
Executive Director, Clinton River Watershed Council
(provides administrative and fiduciary support for the RAP)
101 Main Street, Suite 100
Rochester, MI 48307-2098

Frequent Acronyms

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Clinton River AoC Boundary Map

Clinton River AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 880K)

Clinton River shape file (ZIP) (69K)

Background

Southeastern Michigan's Clinton River, located just north of Detroit, flows 80 miles (128 km) from its headwaters to Lake St. Clair near the city of Mt. Clemens. The river drains 1,968 km2 (760 square miles) of southeastern Michigan, including portions of Oakland and Macomb Counties and small areas of St. Clair and Lapeer Counties. The Area of Concern Exit disclaimer (AOC) includes the entire watershed as well as a portion of Lake St. Clair immediately downstream of the mouth of the Clinton River. Up to half of the river's flow is treated wastewater from six municipal wastewater treatment plants. Land use in the watershed is predominantly commercial and residential, although agriculture is still common in the North Branch subwatershed. The main industries in the area are automotive-related.

Clinton River priorities include elimination of CSOs and SSOs, nonpoint source pollution control, Superfund waste site remediation, spill notification, habitat restoration, and elimination of illicit connections and failing septic systems.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

Several concerns were cited in the initial 1988 Clinton River Remedial Action Plan that described why the river was listed as an AOC. These concerns were (1) conventional pollutants including high fecal coliform bacteria and nutrients, (2) high total dissolved solids, (3) contaminated sediments including heavy metals, PCBs, oil and grease, and (4) impacted biota. Historical point source discharges and some nonpoint sources are responsible for sediment contamination in the mainstem Clinton River. Metals, nutrients, petroleum hydrocarbon, PCBs, DDT and other organic compounds reside in the sediments at levels of concern from Pontiac to the mouths of both the river and the spillway, as well as in the Red Run Drain/Plum Brook subwatershed. Many old closed landfills are of concern. Fecal contamination, including bacteria and nutrients, from wastewater treatment plants was greatly reduced in the years prior to the publication of the 1988 RAP.

Although historical industrial and municipal discharges were the primary causes of environmental degradation in the Clinton River, and thus of its designation as an AOC, ongoing contamination problems are almost exclusively of nonpoint source origin. There are no major industrial discharges to the river or its tributaries of process water (only non-contact cooling water and stormwater), and most (though not all) municipalities have adequate industrial pretreatment programs and have implemented combined sewer control plans. As such, stormwater runoff as a category (including the two municipal systems still experiencing combined sewer overflows), is probably the single greatest source of water quality degradation.

Very rapid urban expansion and the subsequent loss of habitat is the second significant category of environmental problems related to water quality in the Clinton River watershed. Oakland County leads the state in new construction, and Macomb County is experiencing rapid urbanization as well. Wetlands and other wildlife habitat have been all but eliminated from the downstream portion of the basin, and natural drainage has been drastically altered throughout the watershed.

Historical point source discharges and ongoing nonpoint sources are responsible for sediment contamination in the mainstem Clinton River. Metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and other organics have been documented over several decades in a number of locations along the Clinton River from Pontiac to the mouths of both the river and the spillway.

For further information on Clinton River BUIs, see the RAP documents listed in the RAP Development and Status section below.

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Delisting Targets

Local restoration criteria (PDF 916Kb, 48pps) for six of the BUIs in the Clinton River AOC were developed and approved by the PAC in 2005. The PAC has also received additional funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Great Lakes National Program Office (USEPA-GLNPO) to further refine its criteria for the fish and wildlife BUIs – including degraded fish and wildlife populations and loss of habitat. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will review the Clinton River PAC’s completed restoration criteria to determine whether they are at least functionally equivalent to the statewide criteria included in MDEQ' s Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Great Lakes Areas of Concern. When approved by MDEQ, the PAC's restoration criteria for each of the 8 BUIs will be incorporated into future RAP Updates.

As BUIs are restored in the Clinton River, MDEQ, the PAC, and USEPA-GLNPO will evaluate whether the approved restoration criteria have been met. When all BUIs have been restored, MDEQ will work with the PAC to recommend delisting the Clinton River AOC to the USEPA-GLNPO.

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RAP Development and Status

Significant RAP Milestones

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RAP Implementation

Recent progress and achievements

Current projects and outlook

Solutions to many of the most serious problems (i.e. stormwater management, habitat protection) in the Clinton River Watershed require implementation at the local level through mechanisms like land use planning. Because the watershed encompasses over 50 local units of government, comprehensive and coordinated efforts are difficult.

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RAP-Related Publications

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Community Involvement

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Photos

Aerial view of the mouth of the Clinton River as it empties into Lake St. Clair

Aerial view of the mouth of the Clinton River as it empties into Lake St. Clair.

Volunteers install woody debris aquatic habitat in the Clinton River

Volunteers install woody debris aquatic habitat in the Clinton River

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project before remediation

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project, an example of habitat restoration in the Clinton River AOC - before remediation.

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project during remediation

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project, an example of habitat restoration in the Clinton River AOC - during remediation.

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project after remediation

Delia Park Bio-Engineered Project, an example of habitat restoration in the Clinton River AOC - after remediation.


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