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Public Involvement and Education Programs

The Rouge Project's strategy for a comprehensive public involvement and education program to support Rouge River restoration activities has been a success. Since the Rouge Project's inception in 1992, it was clear that public education and involvement programs were a cornerstone of the restoration of the Rouge River.

The actions taken since the beginning of the Project were based on a 1993 survey of area residents which determined that while few people viewed the Rouge River as a viable resource because of its pollution, the majority broadly supported and were optimistic about efforts to improve its quality.

A 1999 survey of the Rouge River residents confirmed that the actions taken by the Rouge Project were resulting in an increasingly informed and supportive public. A paper compares the results of the 1993 and 1999 surveys of Rouge River residents.

This necessitated creating a strong consensus building public involvement program to address the concerns of area residents, educate the community about the effect of their current activities on the watershed and include all stakeholders in the mission to restore the Rouge River. A Rouge River Public Involvement Action Plan was created in the fall of 1994 based upon the survey.

The goal of the Action Plan was to engage numerous stakeholders, inform them, and hopefully gain their support and encourage them to change their behavior to help achieve and maintain a healthy watershed. The public involvement strategy used the philosophy that communication with Rouge River watershed stakeholders must be continual, consistent, truthful and always two-way. In addition, since many of those surveyed thought the causes of pollution to the Rouge River was from industrial sources, a public education campaign had to explain the impact of storm water and non-point source pollution on the river. Finally, the campaign had to explain to everyone their personal responsibility in Rouge River restoration efforts.

Rouge River restoration messages include:

  • Use your head, you live in a watershed;
  • Storm drains aren't garbage cans;
  • When it comes to pollution, every home is waterfront property;
  • Everyone is part of the problem and needs to be part of the solution, and,
  • Simple changes can make big differences.

In the following two years, from late 1995-97, strategies were developed, materials were drafted and outreach activities were created to discover what best engaged the general public.

Informational materials were developed incorporating those messages for a variety of audiences, such as businesses, students, citizens, etc. In addition, stewardship opportunities are successfully being implemented such as: The River Friendly Partners Program, and Friends of the Rouge programs, such as, Storm Drain Stenciling, Frog and Toad Survey, the Rouge Education Program, Rouge Rescue/River Day, and other community pollution prevention initiatives funded by the Rouge Project. The Public Involvement Team has also helped facilitate public education and public participation activities in the seven Rouge River subwatersheds required by the Michigan General Storm Water Permit.

Wayne County Department of Environment's Rouge River Publications Clearinghouse offers a variety of education materials available for purchase. Materials include publications, brochures, CDs, and much more. Rouge River road signage is also available for purchase. For further information call the Rouge Information Line at 1-888-223-2363.

In addition to programs and materials offered by the Wayne County Rouge Program Office, many of the 48 communities in the watershed are sponsoring their own public involvement and education activities as part of the requirements of the Michigan General Storm Water Permit.

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Last Updated: 11/20/2012

Please address all comments and suggestions about the contents of this Web page to DOEHelp@co.wayne.mi.us.

The Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project is funded, in part, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants #XP995743-01, -02, -03, -04, -05, -06, -07 and C-264000-01.