Directions to the Large Lakes Research Station from Detroit Metro Airport
The MED Large Lakes and Rivers Forecasting Research Branch is co-located with Region V's Emergency Response Unit (Superfund - Chicago, IL) and the Criminal Investigation Division (Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance - Washington, D.C.). Together they are housed in the Large Lakes Research Station, located on the site of the former U.S. Naval Air Station at the southern tip of Grosse Ile (about 20 miles south of Detroit). It is housed in a converted Navy warehouse with associated out-buildings and is one of the most sophisticated environmental laboratories of its kind.
A former NIKE missile base site lies on a 40-acre tract of land at the south end of the island which is in USEPA ownership. This site has been remediated by the Department of Defense and has returned to a meadow landscape. Further action is being pursued to utilize this area for research and as a nature center using a community-based approach.
The Federal Government has had a Great Lakes pollution investigation unit on Grosse Ile since 1961 when the U.S. Public Health Service began an intensive study of the Detroit River under enforcement laws. Many long-time residents of the area remember the huge oil slicks that covered much of the river back then. Dead fish and ducks and grease balls were among the environmental problems of the times. Much has been done by industry and government to remedy these problems and we now enjoy a much more aesthetic situation. However, the Detroit River remains an Area of Concern, with severely impacted and/or impaired benthic communities due to highly contaminated sediments in numerous locations.
Grosse Ile is the largest island in the Detroit River. The island and the Large Lakes Research Station are strategically located at the center of the Great Lakes, between the upper (Superior, Michigan, and Huron) and lower (Erie and Ontario) lakes. The Detroit River is a large connecting channel, is 26 miles in length, and has a flow rate of 186,000 cubic feet per second which discharges to western Lake Erie. The river serves as an international boundary between the United States (Michigan) and Canada (Ontario). The river also serves as a major stopping-off-point during duck migration and is home to approximately 60 species of fish. The Detroit River has multiple uses including recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating, commercial navigation as part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, drinking water, industrial uses, and municipal uses.