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Watershed Management

A watershed is any area of land that captures rainwater and eventually carries it to the nearest lake, river, or stream. Michigan has numerous watersheds (PDF, 13MB), with subwatersheds, blanketing the state. 

Working with local watershed groups and member governments, SEMCOG provides technical assistance on watershed management issues and regulatory requirements within their jurisdictions.  

Watershed Management Plans serve as guides for communities to protect and improve the water quality; these plans consider all uses, pollutant sources, and impacts within a drainage area.  More than 150 Watershed Management Plans exist at the local level across the state using MDNRE grants from the Nonpoint Source grant program.  A Watershed Management Plan is required for communities using Michigan’s unique watershed-based Phase II permit. The plan must include:

  • an assessment of the nature and status of the watershed ecosystem,
  • goals that protect the watershed,
  • actions needed to achieve these goals, and
  • a realistic assessment of the benefits of those actions.

Watershed Planning Organizations 
SEMCOG facilitates the Anchor Bay Watershed Group, which conducts quarterly meetings on watershed-wide projects, programs, and permit-related activities. In addition to SEMCOG, there are numerous watershed-planning organizations that collaborate on watershed issues and activities in Southeast Michigan.  

Lake St. Clair Watershed Planning 
Local government officials in Macomb and St. Clair Counties formed the Macomb/St. Clair Inter-County Watershed Management Advisory Group in 2000 to focus watershed planning on Lake St. Clair. The Inter-County Group serves as a catalyst to identify issues and develop projects that cross the jurisdictional boundaries of the counties within the Lake St. Clair watershed. 

MDNRE Guidance on Watershed Plans
MDNRE has developed a guidance document for creating Watershed Management Plans that consider all uses, pollutant sources, and impacts within a drainage area.

Phragmites Management 
Many communities and homeowners are faced with the difficult task of dealing with phragmites. This aquatic invasive plant is taking over local native habitat and threatening our water resources. SEMCOG is actively involved in phragmites activities with the Lake St. Clair Management Plan. Additionally, there are several resources available to assist in identifying phragmites problems in your area and choosing appropriate management techniques. The MDNRE Web site has several resources and workshops published, as well as a technical manual for land managers.