About the Huron River Watershed Council

Footbridge at Pickerel Lake by Marc Akemann
Footbridge at Pickerel Lake by Marc Akemann

Founded in 1965, the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) is southeast Michigan’s oldest environmental organization dedicated to river protection. The Huron River Watershed Council protects and restores the river for healthy and vibrant communities.

HRWC  is a nonprofit coalition of residents, businesses, and local governments. HRWC bridges political boundaries by building partnerships between and among communities, community leaders, residents, and commercial enterprises. HRWC monitors the Huron River, its tributaries, lakes, and groundwater, and leads programs on pollution prevention and abatement, wetland and floodplain protection, public education, and natural resource and land-use planning.

Since we were formed, the HRWC has served as a place where local units of government and citizens have discussed problems and sought solutions to critical issues affecting the River. Even though the HRWC has no enforcement powers, we have accomplished our goals through the use of technical data, factual information, and citizen stewardship to influence decisions made by various local and state agencies.

The Huron River Watershed Council  is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Where is the Huron River watershed located?

Huron River Watershed is in Southeast Michigan

The Huron River watershed, located in southeast Michigan, spans a land area of more than 900 square miles and drains water to the Huron River through hundreds of tributary creeks and streams. The river itself flows more than 125 miles from its headwaters at Big Lake, near Pontiac, to its mouth at Lake Erie. The river’s drainage area includes seven Michigan counties (Oakland, Livingston, Ingham, Jackson, Washtenaw, Wayne, Monroe), 63 municipal governments, and 650,000 residents. Check out our maps for more details.

What does the Huron River Watershed Council do?

HRWC’s mission is to protect and restore the river for healthy and vibrant communities.

We envision a future of clean and plentiful water for people and nature where citizens and government are effective and courageous champions for the Huron River and its watershed.

Types of Activities in which HRWC engages:

  • Monitoring streams: HRWC has developed the premiere citizen-monitoring network in the State. Our strong quality assurance and quality control mechanisms allow agencies to confidently use this data to direct water protection programs.
  • Educating the public: HRWC has an award-winning mass media campaign aimed at changing behaviors to keep our water safe and clean.
  • Reducing pollution: HRWC’s work on phosphorus pollution produced numerous ordinances to protect natural areas, provide stronger protection of wetlands, and to reduce conversion of land and natural habitat to pavement and buildings.
  • Assisting communities: HRWC’s science and policy experts respond daily to residents and government representatives to help them manage development in ways that protect creeks, wildlife, and natural features.
  • Protecting drinking water: HRWC has written an award-winning guidebook that communities throughout Michigan are using to develop drinking water protection plans.
More about our programs and projects

HRWC’s 5-year Vision

In 2027, the Huron River Watershed Council will have built on its existing strengths in watershed science and education by deepening connections with watershed communities, advocating for equitable policies, implementing programs that advance communities’ visions for the Huron River, and protecting the river’s ecological health through aggressively addressing the most pressing threats.

HRWC’s 20-year Vision

In 2042, the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) will be a national leader, and trusted local resource advocating for community-driven priorities that promote and protect healthy, resilient river ecosystems as a sustainable source of safe water for all life. HRWC will be a fully inclusive, anti-racist and multicultural organization.

Core Values

Our Core Values are the guiding principles for how we work together and deliver on our mission.

We hold ourselves and our work to a high standard. We see the long game and stay steadfast in our commitment to protect the Huron River watershed. We follow through on what we say we will do. We are honest, transparent and seek out the truth. We take responsibility for what we can do better. We don’t compromise our values for short term results.

We contribute to and create collective efforts to restore and protect the Huron River that are rooted in respect and collaboration. We meet people and partners where they are and create programs and plans that rely on collective efforts and ideas. We create relationships and partnership through our work that strengthen ties to each other and the communities where we live, work and play. We serve as a conduit between businesses, residents and public officials, agencies, and processes.

We commit to being lifelong learners. We seek to grow our knowledge, skills and understanding and actively exchange, and share science, data, lived experience, and community knowledge of the Huron River watershed. We use this knowledge to bring innovation to the job of protecting the health of the river ecosystem. We stay nimble and adaptable within a rapidly changing world.

We help others to take actions that improve the condition of the Huron River. We share our knowledge of and our care for the Huron River watershed with others. We create opportunities for people to protect or restore the environment in their own ways. We believe leadership can come from many places including our youth and acknowledge they are the future of HRWC and a healthy Huron River. We commit to understanding their vision for the Huron and empowering their leadership.

We take action to restore and protect the Huron River watershed so that it’s a healthy, safe community resource for all. Biodiversity and ecosystem function are critical to a healthy river and anchor the work of the organization. We are vocal advocates across audiences and platforms. We get involved and create momentum behind solutions to problems and emerging threats that are negatively impacting the watershed. We work from the neighborhood to national level, wherever the solutions exist.

We all need a healthy environment to live and thrive. We commit to upholding intersectionality and anti-racism as foundations to our efforts for the Huron River and its communities. We will advance equitable river-friendly policies and programs that ensure all communities can access, benefit from, and enjoy the healthy environment and river. Further we uphold:

  • In order to live our mission of “healthy and vibrant communities,” HRWC recognizes its role in the broader solution for social and environmental justice.
  • Just like our river, we are stronger when we have a diverse, thriving community.
  • To us, diversity means many things: race, ethnicity, dis/ability, LGBTQ+, geography, language, lived experience, age, and many other identities.
  • We strive toward authentic partnership with all communities in our watershed, and to making meaningful, everlasting relationships.
  • Everyone in our watershed has a right to enjoy, honor, respect, and engage with our river, but we also know those from historically marginalized groups experience higher levels of pollution, harassment, and less programming to access the river.
  • Our programs must be informed and guided by the wisdom of our community members.
  • We prioritize respecting and listening to the wide array of voices and experiences
  • We are committed to following anti-racist principles in our programs, organizational structure and policies, and partnerships.

Our Privacy Policy (for Donors):

We will not sell, share or trade our donors’ names or personal information with any other entity, nor send mailings to our donors on behalf of other organizations.

This policy applies to all information received by HRWC both online and offline, on any Platform (“Platform”, includes HRWC’s website and mobile applications), as well as any electronic, written, or oral communications.

To the extent any donations are processed through a third-party service provider, our donors’ information will only be used for purposes necessary to process the donation.

We will handle donations with respect and confidentiality and gifts will be used for the purposes they were given. Go here for more about our privacy policy.

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