It’s sad to live next to a body of water too dirty to put a kayak into. Many residents along the Red Run and Clinton River in South East Michigan agree. Counties and cities need to put aside funding to clean up the Clinton River and its tributaries like the Red Run. The Clinton River is navigable for kayaking between the intersection of Avon & Livernois – Yates Cider Mill (see slide show).
Oakland County Sewer District discharges sewer overflows into the Red Run Drain which is a tributary to the Clinton River that ultimately flows to Lake St. Clair, an international waterway. Forty-two major storm drains are connected to the North and South Drains of the district.
Rainfall events can generate large overflow volumes. Due to the mixing of sanitary and storm water, this discharge, or “overflow” from a combined sewer system is inevitably contaminated with human, commercial and industrial wastes.
The George W. Kuhn Drainage Improvements Projects cost approximately $144 million.
Forty-two major storm drains were disconnected and reconnected during the project.
Two new storm drains that run parallel to the existing drain are known as the North and South Drain.
Red Run Watershed includes 54 miles of open channel including Big Beaver Creek, Plum Brook, Bear Creek and the Red Run. There are numerous municipalities in the Red Run Watershed – approximately 230,000 people and a tremendous amount of concrete, blacktop, and surfaces where water runs off into the drainage systems, without merely soaking into into the ground. This adds to the flashiness (high and low flow levels) of the Clinton River.
Royal Oak Township
Early development around 200 years ago, turned Red Run, the small river within this community, into a drain. With no environmental thoughts or laws, Red Run’s south branch was buried in the late 1920’s along with the north branch in the 1960’s. Both became part of the storm and sanitary drain system for the fast growing northern suburbs.
There were four main tributaries, three on the north side and one on the south. The longest tributary named the Little Run, started in what is now Northwood shopping center. It crossed Woodward and can still be seen as a small ditch winding through Memorial Park. This ditch is the only part of the waterway within Royal Oak that still regularly holds water. It passed through where Royal Oak Golf Course is now and crossed 13 Mile Road, west of the Grand Trunk Railroad tracks.
The Red Run Drain flows from Madison Heights in Oakland County (where it’s enclosed) through Warren and Sterling Heights within Macomb County. The drain flows from the southwest to the northeast near Dequindre, north of 13 Mile Road, to Freedom Hill County Park and into the Clinton River near Hayes and Metropolitan Parkway.
The drain and associated corridor are under the jurisdiction of the Red Run Inter-County Drain Board. The Red Run Drain is some of the only contiguous open space remaining within the City of Warren. Discussions have occurred regarding the potential of creating a greenway and non-motorized trail system connecting Oakland and Macomb Counties to one another and into the regional network.
A greenway and trail along the Red Run Drain would connect several residential neighborhoods to the Warren Community Center and Library, businesses along Mound and Van Dyke Roads, as well as Eckstein Park, Halmich Park, Bates Park, Baumgartner Park, and Freedom Hill.
A trail connection along or near the Clinton River (Clinton River Pathway) from Sterling Heights, through Clinton Township and into Mt. Clemens is possible with a lot of work.
More than 200 sites within the Clinton River Watershed are listed as contaminated, with 27 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Superfund” list and four on the National Priority List. The watershed, which drains urban southern Oakland and Macomb counties, is listed as one of the 42 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes. Sediments contaminated with heavy metals, PCBs, oil and grease are polluting Bear Creek and the Red Run Drain. Degraded biota, low dissolved oxygen, heavy sedimentation, excessive nutrients, pesticides and bacteria are also problems here.
Red Run Inter-County Drain Board
Public Works Building 95 West
One Public Works Drive
Waterford, Michigan 48328
Attention: John P. McCulloch, Drain Commissioner