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Urban Waters Partnership

Urban Waters and the Grand River/Grand Rapids (Michigan)

The Grand River Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a business and community-led effort to restore the urban stretch of the Grand River through downtown Grand Rapids, beginning with recreating the namesake rapids. The Grand River is the longest river in Michigan and a tributary to Lake Michigan.

The ability for fish and other creatures to thrive has been significantly impacted by the installation of five low head dams, floodwalls, urban encroachment, dredging, and grading. The five low head dams on the River drown the historic boulder rapids, limit fish passage and prohibit safe recreational uses of the River.

Investments in pollution control in the urban area have already improved water quality and now the community is working for expanded public use and river-oriented economic development.

Project goals include:

  1. expanding public use and access
  2. engaging youth, Native Americans, and historically-underserved communities
  3. expanding recreational use by anglers, rowers, paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts
  4. restoring historic spawning grounds for state threatened Lake Sturgeon
  5. improving habitat for mussel species
  6. remediating the hydromodification impacts on water quality
  7. expanding economic opportunities associated with turning the "face" of downtown back toward the River, while optimizing sea lamprey protection, assuring continued flood protection and maintaining seasonal water levels upstream and downstream
  • Center for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Corporation for National & Community Service
  • Department of the Army (Army Corps of Engineers) *
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission *
  • U.D. Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture *
  • U.S. Department of Commerce (Economic Development Administration & National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency *
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service *
* indicates actively involved partner
  • City of Grand Rapids
  • Conservation Strategy
  • Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.
  • Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber
  • Founders Brewing Company
  • Grand Rapids Parks Department
  • Grand Valley Metro Council
  • Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan Department of Transportation
  • River Restoration Organization
  • Swamp-Side Studio
  • Warner Norcross & Judd, LLP
  • Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum & Library
  • Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds
  • Michigan League of Conservation Voters
  • Groundswell