Belle River Watershed

Belle River Watershed PhotoIn 2011, on behalf of the Belle River Watershed Advisory Group, the St. Clair County Health Department was awarded a $250,000 grant to develop a Belle River Watershed Management Plan. Congratulations to all the partners and volunteers who made this grant happen! If you are interested in joining the Belle River Watershed Advisory Group, please contact Sheri Faust!

In July 2015, the Belle River Watershed Management Plan recieved approval at the state level from the Michigan DEQ and at the federal level from the EPA.The final watershed management plan is provided below. For a quick easy read and an overview of the whole plan and process, read the Executive Summary.

Belle River Watershed Executive Summary

Cover Page - Cover Page & Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Watershed Description
Chapter 2 - Water Quality Conditions
Chapter 3 - Prioritized Pollutants, Critical Areas, and Priority Areas
Chapter 4 - Designated & Desired Uses
Chapter 5 - Watershed Goals
Chapter 6 - Best Management Practices
Chapter 7 - Watershed Action Plan
Chapter 8 - Public Education Plan
Chapter 9 - Evaluation Plan

The planning process also asssesed the log jam issues throughout the watershed, but primarily focused on the Belle River at the I-94 crossing east towards the mouth of the St. Clair River (Columbus, China and East China Townships). The full assessment and plan and recommendations can be found in the Woody Debris Management Plan.

UPDATE 2014:
Our contract with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality began on Jan 1, 2012 and since then a subcommittee participated in a qualification based selection process to choose an engineering consulting firm, Hubbell, Roth and Clark (HRC), to assist us with this project. HRC will also be partnering wth the firms LymnoTech and King and MacGregor for this project. Since then we have all been busy gathering historical studies in the watershed and planning for field work and water quality monitoring activities for summer 2012.

Belle River Watershed Management Plan Project Summary

This grant project, submitted October 2010, will develop a federal 319 and Clean Michigan Initiative-approved Watershed Management Plan for the Belle River Watershed. The river has a Dissolved Oxygen Total Maximum Daily Load for 21.3 miles of its headwaters where there are high sediment & nutrient loadings, and high levels of E.coli. The Belle River has excessive woody debris, has become flashier since the 1960s, and 61% of its watershed’s wetlands have been lost. The river also has state threatened and endangered species of fish and mussels. This project will identify upland and in-stream sediment/nutrient sources and E.coli sources using land use analysis, modeling, monitoring, and field work. It will prioritize retrofit opportunities, best management practices, and protection tools needed to support the goals and designated uses of the watershed and develop of a woody debris management plan. This project will emphasize education and participation activities by conducting board presentations, subwatershed meetings, focus group meetings, volunteer monitoring, education events, and a social survey.

Belle River Watershed Description

The Belle River flows southeast from Lapeer County through St. Clair County and part of northeastern Macomb County ultimately joining the St. Clair River in Marine City. The Belle River is the southernmost US tributary to the St. Clair River Area of Concern just north of Lake St. Clair. The watershed has approximately 507 miles of river, streams, and drains. It is 145,451 acres and has a population of 31,715. Based on 2009 imagery, land uses are: 54% agricultural, 25% forested, 8% residential (4% low intensity), 8% wetlands (7.5% wooded) and 5% other. Census data from 2000 shows 687 acres of urbanized area in Marine City, East China and China Townships and 3,030 acres of urbanized clusters in the cities of Imlay City, Almont and Richmond. The majority of tributaries feeding the Belle River flow through agricultural land and have historically been straightened and dredged.

Belle River Watershed Partners

The following agencies and communities have provided a letter or resolution of commitment to the Belle River’s Operating Agreement.

  • St. Clair County Health Department
  • St. Clair County Drain Office
  • St. Clair County Road Commission
  • St. Clair County Metro. Planning Commission
  • St. Clair County Parks & Rec.
  • St. Clair County MSU Extension
  • Macomb County Health Department
  • Macomb County Public Works Office
  • Macomb County Road Commission
  • Macomb County Dept of Planning & Econ. Dev.
  • Macomb County Lake St. Clair Tourism
  • Lapeer County Health Department
  • Lapeer Conservation District
  • St. Clair Conservation District
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • SE MI Council of Governments
  • Six Rivers Land Conservancy
  • Casco Township
  • China Township
  • Columbus Township
  • Riley Township
  • City of Memphis
  • Berlin Township
  • City of Imlay City
  • City of Marine City

Belle River Watershed Map
Request a map of Anchor Bay Watershed!