EPA’s $20M targets Clinton River watershed restoration

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Harrison Township – The Clinton River watershed is getting a $20 million infusion of federal dollars to help move it beyond its polluted past.

Local, state and federal Environmental Protection Agency officials made the announcement Monday, heralding the large payout from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The goal is to see the Clinton River removed from the list of Areas of Concerns — a list of environmentally troubled areas throughout the Great Lakes region.

The work will be done in both Macomb and Oakland counties.

Cameron Davis, a senior adviser to EPA Director Gina MaCarthy, said bolstering the health of the lakes is an objective that has bipartisan support, which has made securing funding easier. He pointed to U.S. Reps Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, and Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, appearing together at the announcement as evidence of the support.

“They may be from different sides of the aisle, but we’re all on the side of the Great Lakes,” Davis said.

Michigan has 12 areas of concern, and getting a site removed from the list often takes years and millions of dollars. Two sites — White Lake near Muskegon and Deer Lake near Marquette — were taken off the list in the past 18 months.

For Macomb County, the stakes are high. Local officials want to bolster their economy by touting its outdoor destinations, particularly its access to Lake St. Clair. Beach contamination during the summer months have made that more difficult, and the Clinton River is often seen as a source of the problem.

“We have a lot of challenges to make sure we continue to maintain the Great Lakes as this incredible resource,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “Next to our people, it’s the most important resource we have here in the state of Michigan. Next to the recreational opportunities, there are the jobs. We also can never forget that 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water every day.”

Programs funded by the new Restoration Initiative money include:

■Diversifying habitat along a nine-mile stretch of the Clinton River in the area of Sterling Heights: $4.5 million.

■Restoration of 32,000 linear feet and roughly 90 acres of in-stream, bank and in-land habitat near Partridge Creek Commons, the McBride drain and the Clinton River Spillway: $6.3 million.

■Restoration of the eastern end of the Clinton River Spillway, as well as removal of invasive species: $2.5 million.

■Wetland restoration at Wolcott Mill Metropark: $335,374.

■Wetland restoration at Galloway Creek near Auburn Hills: $140,000.

■Restoration of 3,500 feet of stream at Sylvan Glen, in the City of Troy: $375,000.

■Improving fish and wildlife habitat, and restore coastal wetland areas at the point where the Clinton River empties into Lake St. Clair: $2.6 million.

■Stream-bank stabilization along the Clinton River in Shelby Township: $914,412.

■Restoration of 3,000 linear feet of channel and two acres of habitat at Galloway Creek.

Levin looked back over the decades to a time when his mother swam in places like the Rouge River — something most people wouldn’t think of today.

“What happened after that to the Rouge and Clinton (rivers) and the Great Lakes is that pollution took over,” he said. “And we should remember that. ...

“After decades of pollution, we decided to turn this around. And six years of (GLRI) have shown the ability for us to do that.”


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