Red Cedar River Watershed Facts
The Red Cedar watershed covers approximately 461 square miles. It originates in Livingston County and flows north and then west for approximately fifty miles until it enters the Grand River in Ingham County. It spans from Marion and Howell townships in Livingston County to East Lansing and Mason in Ingham County. It includes the land and cities in between, such as Fowlerville and Williamston, towns to the south such as Dansville, and Meridian Township to the north. It includes parts of Ingham, Livingston, Clinton, Shiawasee, and Eaton Counties.
The Red Cedar River Watershed is a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, agricultural, and developed residential, commercial, and industrial land. Historically the area was predominately forested (1). Today, much of the land is engineered to drain water from the soil by way of drain tiles, buried pipes that collect and convey groundwater from the soil to the river. Urban areas are also drained by way of storm sewers. Water drained by both drain tiles and storm sewers are not treated and drain directly into the Red Cedar River or its tributaries.
Subsequently, as with most urban rivers, pressures on the Red Cedar River include intensive agricultural land use in the headwaters and middle of the watershed and urban development downstream. The size of the urbanized area within the Red Cedar River Watershed is approximately 100 square miles.
The Red Cedar River and connecting water bodies can be an asset and highlight of this community. Surveyed residents of the Red Cedar Watershed think the watershed is most important for nature walks, fishing, boating, hunting, and to drain the land (2).
The State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have declared that areas of the Red Cedar River Watershed are not meeting federally set Water Quality Standards for the bacteria E. coli. Due to the E. coli levels, the water is too frequently unsafe to swim in or use for activities such as boating. The presence of E. coli bacteria indicates fecal contamination of warm blooded animals. Persons in contact with excessive amounts of E. coli may be at risk of contracting Infections or diseases.
You can read more about the DEQ’s reporting of this watershed in the TMDL document on the right.