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St. Clair River: Map

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The St. Clair River is a river in central North America which drains Lake Huronmarker into Lake St Clair, forming part of the International Boundary between the Canadianmarker province of Ontariomarker and the U.S.marker state of Michiganmarker. The river is also a significant component in the Great Lakes Waterway with shipping channels permitting cargo vessels to travel between the upper and lower Great Lakesmarker.

Location

The river, which some consider a "strait,"[48114] flows in a southerly direction, connecting the southern end of Lake Huronmarker to the northern end of Lake St. Clairmarker. It branches into several channels near its mouth at Lake St. Clair, creating a broad delta region known as the St. Clair Flats.

Size

The river is 39 miles (64 km) long and drops 5 feet (1.5 m) in elevation from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair. The flow rate averages around 182,000 cubic feet per second (5,200 m¬≥/s), and the drainage area is 222,400 square miles (576,000 km¬≤). This takes into account the combined drainage areas of Lakes Huronmarker, Michiganmarker, and Superiormarker.

The shipping channel on Lake St. Clair itself is 35 miles (56 km) long from the end of the St. Clair River to the beginning of the Detroit River. The Detroit River is 32 miles (51 km) long and drops 3 feet (1 m) in elevation from Lake St. Clair to its mouth at Lake Eriemarker. The Detroit River discharges an average of 186,000 cubic feet per second (5,300 m¬≥/s) into Lake Erie.

History

In the 1700s, Frenchmarker voyageurs travelled on the river in canoes loaded with furs destined to adorn Europe's royalty. Ships built at Marine City, Michiganmarker during the mid-1800s carried immigrants up the river on their way to new homes in the American West. During the 20th century, freighters returned from the upper Great Lakes with iron ore, copper, grain - products of some of these settlers' labor.

Watersheds

The St. Clair River and its Lambton County tributaries in Ontario contributes 103,210 acres (418 km¬≤) to the watershed, although this does not include the Sydenham River watershed. In Michigan, the Black River, Pine River, and Belle River drain 780,600 acres (3,159 km¬≤) in Lapeermarker, Macombmarker, Sanilacmarker, and St. Clairmarker counties; the watersheds around Bunce Creek and Marine Citymarker are relatively small.

Islands



Land usage

Most of the watershed away from the river in Ontario and Michigan is used for agriculture. A few forest and wetland remnants are present, although their area has declined significantly since European settlement.

Much of the shoreline on both sides of the St. Clair River is urbanized andheavily industrialized. Intensive development has occurred in and near the cities of Port Huron, Michiganmarker and Sarnia, Ontariomarker. The heaviest concentration of industry (including a large petrochemical complex) lies along the Ontario shore south of Sarnia.

Several communities along the St. Clair rely on the river as their primary source of drinking water. About one-third to one-half of the residents of Michigan receive their water from the St. Clair/Detroit River waterway.

Industries -- including petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper mills, salt producers and electric power plants -- also need high quality water for their operations, although there have been some cases in recent years where these industries have contaminated river waters after discharging pollutants.

Land habitat

Land areas of the St. Clair River shoreline and flats consist of two biological zones: upland and transitional, both of which are normally above the water table, but which may be flooded periodically.

The upland forests consist of deciduous species, many of which are near their northern climatic limit. Most pre-European settlement trees have been cleared for agriculture, industry, or urbanization. Remaining forest stands, such as oak savannas as well as lakeplain prairies, are found along the southern reaches of the river, particularly on the islands of the St. Clair River Delta and on the Michigan shore in Algonac State Parkmarker.

Transitional species are abundant in the low-lying regions, categorized as shrub ecotones, wet meadows, sedge marshes, and island shorelines and beaches. This habitat is home to water and land mammals, including humans, as well as songbirds, waterfowl, insects, pollinators, reptiles, and amphibians.

Water habitat

The aquatic habitat of the St. Clair River ranges from deep and fast near the Blue Water Bridgemarker to shallow and slow in the lower river near its discharge point into Lake St. Clair.

Each area provides a unique habitat for aquatic life:

Area of concern

[[Image:Algorail in (St Clair River Mich).jpg|thumb|right|300 px|Canadian freighter Algorail downbound in the St. Clair River]]The St. Clair River is listed as an Area of Concern (AOC) because of pollutants such as bacteria, heavy metals, and toxic organics, which had come from municipal and industrial discharges, urban and rural runoff, combined sewer overflows (CSOs), and contaminated sediments.

The St. Clair River AOC includes the entire river, from the Blue Water Bridge to the southern tip of Seaway Island, west to St. Johns Marsh and east to include the north shore of Mitchells Bay on Lake St. Clair. Anchor Bay is not included.

Through the Great Lakes agreement, a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was created to initiate cleanup measures. It consists of six steps:

  • Restrictions on fish consumption
  • Bird and animal deformities
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restrictions on dredging activities
  • Restrictions on drinking water consumption
  • Beach closings
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Added cost to agriculture and industry
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


The RAP for the St. Clair River AOC was initiated in 1985. A binational group, called the RAP Team, was established in 1987 to develop the plan and ensure adequate and appropriate public involvement. The RAP Team included representatives from federal, state, and provincial governments.

Crossings

This is a list of bridges and other crossings of the St. Clair River from Lake St. Clairmarker upstream to Lake Huronmarker.

Crossing Carries Location Coordinates

Harsens Island Ferry M-154 Algonac, Michiganmarker and Harsens Islandmarker, Michiganmarker (crosses the North Channel of the St. Clair)
Russell Island Ferry passengers only Algonac, Michiganmarker and Russell Island, Michiganmarker
Walpole-Algonac Ferrymarker cars and passengers Algonac, Michiganmarker and Walpole Islandmarker, Ontariomarker
Sombra-Marine City Ferrymarker M-29
St.

Clair Parkway
Marine City, Michiganmarker and Sombra, Ontario
St. Clair Tunnelmarker Canadian National Railway Port Huron, Michiganmarker and Sarnia, Ontariomarker
Blue Water Bridgemarker I-69
I-94
Highway 402



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