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Stormwater/Watershed Protection

What is a watershed?watershed.jpg
A watershed is the area of surrounding land that drains into a body of water - such as a stream, river, or lake.  The city of Farmington is located within the Rouge River Watershed - more specifically, Upper Rouge River Subwatershed.  The city of Farmington is a member of the Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) and partners with the Friends of the Rouge in order to help protect the Upper Rouge River Subwatershed, and Rouge River Watershed as a whole, from pollution due to runoff into the river.

For more information on the Rouge Watershed and how you can help protect it, please visit the Alliance of Rouge Communities website at or the Friends of the Rouge website at

What is an outfall?
An outfall is any drain, culvert, tube, pipe, or catch basin that empties into a waterway - Rouge River.  Outfalls drain storm water, including rain and snow melt, along with pollutants into the river.  Animal waste, illegal storm drain dumping, lawn fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals are only some of the possible pollutants that may enter the river through outfalls.

Did you know that storm drains are directly connected to our lakes, rivers, and streams?  When it rains and/or snow melts, anything along the roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways runs into the drains and into our waterways.  This is also true when you wash a vehicle in your driveway, or have over-spray when watering your lawn.

You can help!
There are several ways you can help protect the Rouge River watershed.  Just to name a few:
  • Report any illict connection(s)/discharge(s)
An illicit connection is when a pipe, intended for sanitary sewer, is actually connected to a storm drain or when a pipe, intended for a storm drain, is connected to a sanitary sewer.  An illicit discharge is the introduction of polluting materials into a pipe that drains to a surface water or the dumping of polluting material that can impact surface water.  When observing a storm drain, remember:  If it is not raining, the drain should be dry and ground water crystal clear.
To report any suspcious connections or discharge, please contact the Department of Public Services at 248-473-7250.
  • Do not over water your lawn
Early morning and evening are the best time to water your lawn.  Lawns require approximately 1 inch of water per week.  Too much water can result in shallow roots, low tolerance to heat and drought, and increased susceptibility to disease.  A sign of an over-watered lawn is water run-off onto the sidewalk, driveway, or street carries essential nutrients away from you lawn, and also picks up pollutants that flow into the storm drains.  Signs of a healthy lawn are root depth and blade height-especially during long dry periods.
Please make sure sprinklers are directed to water only the grass-not the sidewalk, driveway, or street.
  • Do not feed the waterfowl
Feed ducks seems harmless; however, feeding ducks, geese, and other waterfowl encourage them to be dependent on humas instead of migrating south or continuing to seek other food or shelter.  As a result, many local parks are overrun with waterfowl (and their feces).  Waterfowl waste contributes nutrient and bacterian pollution to the Rouge River.  Also, waterfowl need certain nutrients in their diet-NOT BREAD-that exist within the native area.
Not feeding waterfowl helps not only the Rouge River, but also the ducks and geese.
  • Properly dispose of pet waste
Pet waste contributes to pollution in the storm drains and waterways.  Picking up your pet's waste is helpful to not only the environment, but also courteous to neighbors and other visitors to our city and parks. 
Dispensers with pet waste bags are located at various locations throughout the city.
  • Fertilize sparingly
Fertilizer is not always the answer to having the lush, green, weed-free lawn.  A healthy lawn can sometimes be accomplished by simply keeping grass 3 inches tall, which helps promote root growth and shades out weeds.  Recycling the clippings back into the lawn also helps keep the lawn healthy.  Please consider the following when shopping for fertilizer:
  • Slow-release promotes steady, uniform growth and is water soluble
  • Avoid fertilizer-herbicide mixtures
  • Low- or zero-phosphorus fertilizer is best for surface water quality as excessive phosphorus can cause abundant plant and algae growth
When applying fertilizer:
  • ALWAYS follow the label instructions EXACTLY
  • Never apply at rates heavier than recommended
  • Fertilize in late spring and early fall
  • Only apply to turf; avoid over-spraying
  • Keep at least 20 feet from the edge of lake, river, stream, and storm drain
The best way to know whether or not your lawn needs fertilizer is a soil test.  Soil test kits are available from the Oakland County MSU Extension Office at 248-858-0885.
  • Plant native
Native plants are a low-maintenance form of landscaping that provides habitat for many birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.  Thanks to their extensive, deep root system, native landscapes hold rain and survive drought much better than non-native plants and turf grass.  Because native plants have adapted to local soils and pests, they require less watering and no chemicals or fertilizers to protect them.  That means less pollution to the waterways and less maintenance for you.  Creating a "buffer zone" with native landscaping along the Rouge River also helps protect it against excessive pollutant run-off.
Landscaping your property with native plants is very beneficial to not only the environment, but also to you! 
  •  Do not over salt
Salt (sodium chloride) is popularly used to clear snow and ice from roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways by lowering the freezing point preventing snow and ice buildup to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.  Because salt is a mineral found within Earth's crust and in the oceans, it makes sense that it is not harmful to the natural environment; however, high concentrations can be harmful.  Run-off from treated surfaces go into the storm drains, which flow directly into the lakes, rivers, and streams.
Do not salt excessively and keep covered when storing.

Additional Resources
Sites of interest on how to protect all waterways:

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner

Oakland County MSU Extension