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Great Lakes AOCs

About Rouge River AOC

map showing the extent of the Rouge River AOCBoundary map of the Rouge River AOC
Rouge River in southeastern Michigan was designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Contaminated sediments and water affect fish and wildlife as well as recreation. Remedial Action Plan priorities include elimination of combined sewer overflows, nonpoint source pollution control and industrial discharge pretreatment.

AOC Boundaries

The Rouge River has four main branches totaling 125 miles of waterways that primarily flow through Wayne and Oakland counties, with some headwaters in Washtenaw County. 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.

The Rouge River watershed contains the oldest and most heavily populated and industrialized area in southeast Michigan. 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.
  • Over 50 miles of publicly-owned parklands in the northern and western portions of the watershed are adjacent to watercourses
  • Land uses include rural, suburban, urbanized and industrial

Sources of Pollution

  • Municipal and industrial direct dischargers
  • Combined and separate sewer overflows
  • Nonpoint source pollution/storm runoff
These sources released contaminants such as:
  • heavy metals
  • PCBs
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • oil and grease

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • 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


Restoring Rouge River AOC (timeline)


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District

The following links exit the site EXIT

Rouge River Advisory Council (Alliance of Rouge Communities)
The RRAC advises MDEQ and assists in updating and implementing the RAP. The advisory council includes representatives of:
  • industry
  • environmental interests
  • citizens
  • universities
  • the Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • local and county governments
  • parks
  • health departments