Projects Help Restore Iconic Rouge River

Project Summary: Two upcoming Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects in the Rouge River will restore damaged stream banks, restore wetlands, reduce stormwater runoff, decrease flooding and create fish and wildlife habitat.

Project names: Danvers Pond Dam Removal and Stream Restoration and Transforming the Rouge River Area of Concern.

Location: Several sites in and along the Rouge River, which flows through communities located on the south and west sides of Detroit.

Description: The Danvers Dam project will remove the Danvers Pond Dam, which is located on Pebble Creek, a tributary of the Rouge River. The project will restore a more natural river channel, which will reduce flooding

downstream. Restoration of the stream bank will create habitat for fish and wildlife.

A wetland area on the Rouge River that has been restored. Photo from Flickr/vlitvinov.

A wetland area on the Rouge River that has been restored. Photo from Flickr/vlitvinov.

The project known as “Transforming the Rouge River Area of Concern” will restore stream banks, wetlands and upland habitat to advance efforts to eliminate beneficial use impairments in the watershed. The project will create 25 acres of native vegetation and restore seven acres of wetlands in the main, upper and lower branches of the Rouge River, which is a major tributary of the Detroit River.

Approximate cost of projects: $499,254 for the Danvers Dam project and $648,750 for the Rouge River habitat restoration work.

Resource challenges addressed: Loss of wetlands and other fish and wildlife habitat, alteration of natural stream flows, excessive storm water runoff and degradation of water quality.

Key partners (public and private): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Wayne County Water Resources Office, Friends of the Rouge, Alliance of Rouge Communities and several cities along the river.

Types of jobs created: Biologists, hydrologists, civil engineers, aquatic ecologists, landscape architects, excavators and truck drivers.

Results and accomplishments: Initial work is just beginning on the Danvers Dam removal and stream bank restoration projects. But the Rouge River has already improved dramatically since the 1960s, when the lower river was so polluted it caught fire. Over the past three decades, local, state and federal agencies have invested $1.6 billion on a multitude of projects aimed at restoring the Rouge.

The projects reduced storm water runoff and sanitary sewer overflows, restored fish and wildlife habitat by removing small dams, stabilized erosion-prone stream banks and created new fish spawning sites. The Rouge is far from being a pristine river, but past efforts have allowed several species of fish and wildlife to return to the river. Water quality also has improved to the point that people now fish and kayak in the river.

Web site: and

Originally Published: October 10, 2011

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