Manistique Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04060106

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Watershed Overview

The Manistique River Watershed covers approximately 1,466 square miles. Historically, the Manistique River waters in the Area of Concern include receiving wastes from a paper mill, small industries, a municipal waste water treatment plant, and navigation for shipping, ferrying, recreational boating and commercial fishing. The river currently receives wastewater discharges from Manistique Papers, Inc., and the City of Manistique Wastewater Treatment Plant and is recreationally used for boating, sightseeing and fishing.

Dredging of contaminated sediments was completed at the end of 2000. Final dredging was done by divers with hydraulic hoses to minimize resuspension of PCBs and to ensure a clean substrate when the dredging was completed.

A majority of the forestland in the Manistique headwaters was logged. Fires have left behind several white pine stump field that are now being reclaimed by forest.

The Seney National Wildlife Refuge is located upstream of the City of Manistique. The refuge is a 95,455 acre area comprised of fields and secondary growth forest. Almost two-thirds of the refuge has varying types of wetlands that provide habitat for several threatened and endangered species. The refuge is home to 26 fish species, 50 mammalian species, and 200 bird species which include eagles, loons, and trumpeter swans.

The Nature Conservancy has identified White Pine/Blueberry Dry-Mesic Forest on the East Branch Fox River and Seney Fens as a critical ecological resource. Seney sand lake plain streams has been identified as a critical ecological system and it is located on the lower reaches of Tahquamenon and Manistique Rivers. The Auricled Twayblade has been identified as a critical species at the Seney Fens and the East Branch Fox River.

Between the years of 1996 and 2001, there have been slight increases in developed land, farmland, and grassland, and a decrease in forest.

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Watershed Activities

The Manistique River RAP identified PCBs as the primary imnpairment contributing to the degradation of fisheries. Aquatic nuisance species have also threatened fishery productivity. Fish passage is also restricted by a dam located at the head of the old flume.

A study conducted in 1994 identified 115 erosion sites along 10,281 feet of streambank which contribute an estimated 3,000 tons of sediment each year to the Driggs River, which is a tributary to the Manistique River.

Plans are currently underway to phase out combined sewer systems by the year 2020.

Area of Concern Activities

The Manistique River Area of Concern (AOC) is the last 1.7 miles of the river, from the dam to the mouth of the harbor at Lake Michigan. The physical characteristics of this portion of the river have been significantly altered over the last century, with construction of artificial islands in the river for boat docks during the lumbering era in the late 1800s, building of harbor breakwaters in 1913, and completion of the dam and flume in the 1920s.

Historical uses of Manistique River waters in the AOC include receiving wastes from sawmills, a paper mill, small industries, the municipal waste water treatment plant, plus navigation for shipping, ferrying, recreational boating and commercial fishing. Current uses include receiving the wastewater discharges from Manistique Papers, Inc. and the City of Manistique Wastewater Treatment Plant. Recreational uses are mainly boating, sightseeing, and fishing.

The area was listed as an AOC due to the identification of contamination by poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), oils, and heavy metals in the 1970s. Additionally, large quantities of un-decomposed sawdust remain in harbor and river sediments from the white pine lumbering era over one hundred years ago, as well as the relatively sterile sandy sediment that eroded from river banks as a result of log drives on the river.

Remedial actions in the area over the past 10 years, including the removal of sediments contaminated with PCBs and other industrial waste, have allowed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to remove the Manistique River's Degradation of Benthos and Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat impairments. Benthos refers to small organisms that typically live along the bottom of the river. Support for the action was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Manistique River Public Advisory Council.

Of the 5 beneficial use impairments originally identified for the Manistique River AOC, these currently remain impaired:

  • Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption
  • Restriction on Dredging Activities

Watershed Groups

  • Manistique River Chapter of the Michigan Statewide Public Advisory Council: Corey Barr, Chair,
  • Manistique River Area of Concern –

For more information, see the USEPA “Surf Your Watershed” website or contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment at 517-335-6969 to request a copy of report number MI/DEQ/WB-05/106, “A Biological Survey of the Manistique River Watershed, Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft, and Delta Counties, MI”

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool at: This site has interactive watershed-based information on industrial facilities discharge sites, toxic release inventory, permit compliance system, water quality stations, bacteria stations, national sediment inventory stations, best management practices, water quality observation stations, weather data stations, impaired waters (reach and area), landcover change (1992-2001), landuse 2001, soil, and elevation.

Watershed Data and Information

USGS Water Resources Links for: 04060106 – Manistique

USGS State Information and Contacts:

Current Water Data:

All Water Data (Current and Historic Sites):

Other Data Links:

Current Regional/National Conditions:

Search USGS for Links, Publications and Web Sites Associated with:

EPA Links for the Manistique - HUC 04060106:

Impaired (303d) Waters

A listing of impaired waters can be found on the U.S. EPA website at: River


Subwatersheds for the Manistique River Watershed

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Information on other Lake Michigan subwatersheds can be found at:
HUC Watershed Name
04060106 0101 South Manistique Lake
04060106 0102 Black Creek
04060106 0103 Manistique Lake
04060106 0201 West Branch Fox River
04060106 0202 Little Fox River-Fox River
04060106 0203 Twomile Ditch-Fox River
04060106 0204 Camp Seven Creek-East Branch Fox River
04060106 0205 Deer Creek-East Branch Fox River
04060106 0206 East Branch Fox River
04060106 0207 Fox River
04060106 0301 Negro Creek-Driggs River
04060106 0302 Walsh Creek
04060106 0303 C-3 Pool-Walsh Creek
04060106 0304 Walsh Ditch
04060106 0305 Holland Ditch
04060106 0306 Driggs River
04060106 0307 Mead Creek
04060106 0308 Pine Creek-Manistique River
04060106 0309 Duck Creek
04060106 0310 Marsh Creek-Manistique River
04060106 0401 Beaver Creek-North Branch Stutts Creek
04060106 0402 Middle Branch Stutts Creek
04060106 0403 North Branch Stutts Creek
04060106 0404 South Branch Stutts Creek
04060106 0405 Star Creek
04060106 0406 Stoner Creek-Creighton River
04060106 0407 Creighton River
04060106 0408 Prairie Creek-Hickey Creek
04060106 0409 Section Nineteen Creek-West Branch Manistique River
04060106 0410 Hickey Creek
04060106 0411 Stutts Creek
04060106 0412 West Branch Manistique River
04060106 0501 Squaw Creek-Indian River
04060106 0502 Little Indian River
04060106 0503 Delias Run-Indian River
04060106 0504 Little Murphy Creek-Indian River
04060106 0505 Big Murphy Creek
04060106 0506 Iron Creek-Indian River
04060106 0507 Dad Creek
04060106 0508 Smith Creek
04060106 0509 Indian Lake-Indian River
04060106 0510 Buck Creek
04060106 0601 Bear Creek
04060106 0602 Merwin Creek-Manistique River
04060106 0603 Sturgeon Hole Creek
04060106 0604 Manistique River