Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about the River Raisin? Explore our list of frequently asked questions to learn more about the river and its watershed.

How big is the River Raisin Watershed?  The entire watershed is approximately 1,072 square miles – roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island.  The watershed contains areas of five Michigan Counties: Lenawee, Monroe, Washtenaw, Jackson, Hillsdale, and a portion of Fulton County Ohio.

How long is the River Raisin?  The River Raisin is approximately 150 miles long.

What is an Area of Concern (AOC)?  AOCs are severely degraded geographic areas. They are defined by the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Annex 2 of the 1987 Protocol) as “geographic areas that fail to meet the general or specific objectives of the agreement where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use of the area’s ability to support aquatic life.” The U.S. and Canadian governments have identified 43 such areas; 26 in U.S. waters, 17 in Canadian water (five are shared between U.S. and Canada on connecting river systems). Collingwood Harbour, in Ontario, is the first of these 43 sites to be delisted.  The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, as amended via the 1987 protocol, directs the two federal governments to cooperate with state and provincial governments to develop and implement Remedial Action Plans for each Area of Concern.

What are Beneficial Use Impairments?  Impairment of beneficial use (BUI) is defined as a change in the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of the Great Lakes system sufficient to cause any of the 14 use impairments below  or other related uses such as the microbial objective for waters used for body contact recreational activities.  BUIs are:

  • Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption
  • Tainting of Fish and Wildlife Flavor
  • Degraded Fish and Wildlife Populations*
  • Fish Tumors or Other Deformities
  • Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems
  • Degradation of Benthos
  • Restrictions on Dredging Activities
  • Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae*
  • Restrictions on Drinking Water Consumption or Taste and Odor Problems
  • Beach Closings*
  • Degradation of Aesthetics*
  • Added Costs to Agriculture or Industry
  • Degradation of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Populations
  • Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat*

Bold Italic = BUIs in the River Raisin AOC     *BUI removed

Projects Scheduled to Address BUIs:

  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Sediment Remediation in River Channel
  • Fish Passage Phase 1 & 2 (~over 30 miles of river)
  • Sterling Island Habitat Restoration
  • Sterling State Park Marsh & Prairie Restoration / Wetland Enhancement

How did these projects come to life & where did funding come from?  Projects came to life from the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Stage 2, USEPA, MDEQ & various Technical Committees.  Funding came from USEPA Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI) & MDEQ.

How will projects impact / benefit the River Raisin / Monroe Community?  Delisting the AOC (removal of BUIs) will impact the river by:

  • Recreation Opportunities (Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, water sports/activities, etc).
  • Project area entrenched near the National Battlefield / Heritage Trail / Bike Trail.
  • Employment, water quality, recreation, delisting 9 BUIs / rebranding based on project scopes (i.e. dams are now river rapids, Waterloo Dam @ Veteran’s Park will have a channel for fishing/access), Continued community involvement with maintaining river/watershed.
  • AOC delisting will allow for rebranding of the River Raisin for education purposes to public / other AOCs not delisted.
  • Potential business opportunities with delisting/remediation for Port of Monroe with the river channel remediated.

Are fish safe to consume?  Environmental authorities advise people not to eat some kinds of fish from the river, below the outlet of the Monroe Dam.   Michigan Department of Community Health Division of Environmental Health, 2010 – River Raisin, below Monroe Dam: no consumption of carp, channel cat, larger white bass; limited consumption of black buffalo, freshwater drum, smallmouth bass, smaller white bass See link.