U.S. EPA RAP Liaison:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909
Clinton River PAC Chair:
Macomb County Prosecutor's Office
One S. Main Street 3rd Floor
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043
Clinton River PAC Vice Chair and Michigan SPAC Representative
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043
Executive Director, Clinton River Watershed Council
(provides administrative and fiduciary support for the RAP)
101 Main Street, Suite 100
Rochester, MI 48307-2098
- Beneficial Use Impairments
- Delisting Targets
- RAP Development and Status
- Significant RAP Milestones
- RAP Implementation
- RAP-Related Publications
- Community Involvement
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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 (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.
Beneficial Use Impairments
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- Eutrophication or undesirable algae
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Beach closings
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Degradation of benthos
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
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.
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.
RAP Development and Status
Significant RAP Milestones
- 2007: MDEQ Remedial Action
Plan Update for the Clinton River Area of Concern
(PDF 308Kb, 16pps)
- 2005-2006: Funding has been secured through a federal appropriation to update the RAP.
- 2005: Restoration Criteria for the Clinton River Area of Concern: Phase I - Summarized Final Report completed.
- 2005: Development of delisting criteria in the Clinton River Area of Concern: Full Length Final Report (PDF 916Kb, 48pps) completed.
- 2004: Watershed Restoration Criteria for the Clinton River Watershed (PDF 1110Kb, 18pps) - Presentation to the Clinton River PAC, Sept. 29, 2004.
- 1998: Clinton River Watershed Remedial and Preventive Action Plan: 1998 Update and Progress Report (PDF 5000Kb, 59pps) completed.
- 1995: Clinton River RAP Update (PDF 3.13Mb, 69pps) document completed.
- 1993: Clinton River Remedial Action Planning: A State and Watershed Community Partnership - Public Advisory Committee Notebook (PDF 14.94Mb, 323pps) completed.
- 1988: The initial Clinton River RAP (PDF 15.97Mb, 477pps) document completed.
Recent progress and achievements
- 2004-2005: The PAC received a grant from the Great Lakes Commission to develop delisting criteria for the Clinton River AOC in 2004-2005. A grant to further develop the fish and wildlife populations, habitat, and benthic community BUIs was received from U.S. EPA in 2005.
- 2005: The U.S. Geological Survey completed a sediment transport study.
- 2003-2005: Oakland University received a grant to conduct an assessment of contaminated sediments
- The Clinton River Watershed Council launched a major stormwater education effort in 2004.
- The Clinton River Watershed Council launched the Adopt-A-Stream volunteer river monitoring program in spring 2005. More than 150 volunteers were recruited to monitor two dozen sites in the first year of the program.
- Seven subwatershed planning groups consisting of more than 50 communities and county agencies have formed since 2001, and are currently developing subwatershed management plans and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Initiatives as part of the requirements of the NPDES Phase II stormwater permit.
- DEQ initiated sediment dredging using CMI funds in 2002.
- Ozone purification at the Mt. Clemens water treatment plant began implementation in 2001.
- There are numerous nonpoint pollution control projects in the watershed being planned and implemented with Section 319 funds.
- Control of CSOs has been addressed with new permits, and construction of required improvements is underway. Additionally, sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) have been recognized and corrections are underway.
- Illicit sewer connections are being actively enforced, and fieldwork to discover and correct these illegal connections is underway. Further enforcement actions have been taken on failing septic systems, wetlands violations, etc.
- A subwatershed management plan was completed for Stony Creek in 2003.
- A nonpoint source control plan was completed for an urban subwatershed (Bear Creek), in 2000.
- Options for improved operation and management of onsite sewage systems have been identified and are being implemented.
- Combined sewers have been separated in Almont, Armada, Pontiac, Rochester, and Warren.
- Partial separation and construction of a CSO retention basin has been accomplished in Mt. Clemens.
- Macomb County has aggressively enforced provisions of the stormwater permitting program.
- A Macomb County special prosecutor for water quality was hired
- Progress has been made by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the cleanup of many of the waste sites, using Act 307 and Superfund monies.
- Two years of sediment sampling have occurred to locate areas of contamination outside the lower river.
- Oakland County established an infrastructure fund to financially assist municipalities with pollution control efforts.
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.
- Funding has been secured through a federal appropriation to update the RAP in 2005-2006. These documents are produced primarily by work groups consisting of Public Advisory Council (PAC) and RAP Team representatives, other technical experts, and the general public.
- All 42 municipalities that must comply with the NPDES Phase II stormwater permit applied for Michigan's watershed-based permit, and have thus formed subwatershed planning groups that meet monthly to work on watershed planning and stormwater management initiatives.
- The Macomb County Health Department is currently working to identify and remediate bacterial sources throughout the watershed.
- A number of communities are actively working on upgrading the wastewater treatment system.
- A major water quality monitoring initiative on the Clinton River, St. Clair River, and Lake St. Clair was made possible through Clean Michigan Initiative funds and is being spearheaded by the Macomb County Health Department. Data collection began in 2004.
- 2006: Hydrologic and Geomorphic Analysis of the Clinton River Watershed: Final Report (PDF 10.7MB, 73pps) - Section 319 Clean Water Act study that consists of detailed hydrologic and geomorphic assessments of the Clinton River Watershed. Appendix (PDF 36.5MB, 106pps)
- 2005: Draft Clinton River Assessment (PDF 1,010Kb, 60pps) - Addresses geography, history, geology, soils and land use, dams and barriers, water quality, biological communities, fisheries management, recreational use and citizen involvement, as well as other aspects of the Clinton River watershed. Management options are identified, to provide a foundation for public discussion, priority setting, and to assist in ultimately planning the future of the Clinton River.
- The Clinton River Public Advisory Council (PAC): Meetings take place several times a year. The PAC welcomes attendance and input from anyone interested in the environmental issues confronting the watershed.
- The Clinton River Watershed Council: A nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and celebrating the Clinton River, its watershed and Lake St. Clair.