The environmental health of the Rouge Watershed has been significantly compromised through urbanization and sprawl. The watershed is medium in size (438 sq. miles) and supports a population of 1.5 million people. As a tributary to the Detroit River, the Rouge River remains a high priority for restoration and water quality improvement activities.
The Rouge Project began in 1992 to address severe water quality degradation throughout the watershed. Many areas of the Rouge River did not meet federal water quality standards and collaborative action throughout the watershed resulted from concern for public and environmental health. As people realized the importance of integrated watershed management verse point source pollution prevention, seven different subwatershed management plans were developed to address degraded water bodies throughout the watershed. At the time the plans were developed, the main threats to the river were combined sewer overflows, failing septic systems, storm water run-off, stream bank erosion, and habitat degradation. Through close monitoring and coordination at the regional scale, several of these threats have been mitigated and the Rouge River has shown significant improvements in recent years.
For more information, please refer to The Rouge River Project website
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