The Rouge River watershed is a designated Area of Concern (AOC) under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) due in part to loss of fish and wildlife habitat and populations. Johnson Creek, a major tributary within the watershed, is one of the only cold-water streams in southeast Michigan that is capable of supporting trout and other cold-water fish species. Fish Hatchery Park is a public park and site of a former state fish hatchery. Johnson Creek was rerouted around the hatchery in the early 1900s using vertical concrete walls, which isolate Johnson Creek from its historic floodplain. These manmade alterations resulted in the loss and impairment of aquatic and riparian habitat. In addition, the one remaining groundwater fed pond was impaired by sedimentation.
The Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) – a group of local municipalities, counties and institutions united to improve water quality of the Rouge River watershed – retained ECT to restore more than 1,000-foot-long creek and its associated pond. ECT provided planning, design, and permitting, as well as construction documentation and management.
The pond has been restored to its four- to six-foot-deep natural depth due to dredging of over 2,000 cubic yards of sediment. A stone-lined fish passage channel now allows water to flow between Johnson Creek and the pond and fish can swim between the two bodies of water. The vertical concrete walls were removed along with soil fill in the historic floodplain. Riparian habitat and soil stability were improved by planting 250 native trees and 350 native plants along the streambanks reconstructed streambanks and floodplain. The native riparian vegetation plant’s reduce soil erosion. In addition, a new bioswale strategically located between the parking lot and pond filters rainwater runoff and reduces sediment from reaching the pond.
In total, more than $1 M in grant funds supported this project through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.