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Now is the perfect time to get involved with protecting our freshwater resources with volunteer events, free training and education classes and family-friendly activities throughout the year!

WaterTowns® is a community-based placemaking initiative designed to help cities, towns and villages in the watershed leverage assets of the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair to help improve water quality and alleviate climate change impacts by promoting and implementing green infrastructure and advancing water-oriented community and recreation opportunities.



Current WaterTowns®




New WaterTown® per year

$55 k

Put towards Mini Grants


WHAT IS A Designated WaterTown®?

  • Recognizes the potential of their water assets to attract and retain residents and businesses
  • Engages with the community in creating a vision or strategic plan for water access points
  • Develops and enhances water-oriented leisure and recreation amenities
  • Introduces green infrastructure into areas of redevelopment to improve water quality
  • Contributes to the social, economic, and environmental identities of communities.


One of the goals of WaterTowns® is to encourage public interactions with the river and improve accessibility for all river users, including those with disabilities. WaterTowns® assisted with the installment of the first inclusive, universally accessible canoe and kayak launch on the Clinton River in MacArthur Park, in Downtown Mt. Clemens.


To encourage public interactions with the river by improving accessibility and inclusivity for all water trail users.


Contributing to the social, economic, and environmental identities of communities by creating stronger, more vibrant places along the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair, and throughout the entire watershed.


Enhancing watershed protection while improving public spaces by working with communities to construct, plan, and envision how to improve stormwater management using ecological features (e.g. amended soil and native vegetation) to achieve more natural hydrological functions.


We recently welcomed the Charter Townships of Chesterfield and Independence into the program during 2019. Two new communities, the Cities of Berkley and Ferndale, are slated for 2020.




  • Auburn Hills
  • Berkley
  • Center Line
  • Chesterfield
  • Clarkston
  • Clinton Township
  • Eastpointe
  • Ferndale
  • Harrison Township
  • Huntington woods
  • Independence Township
  • Keego Harbor
  • Macomb Township
  • Madison Heights


  • Mount Clemens
  • New Baltimore
  • Orion Township
  • Rochester
  • Rochester Hills
  • Royal Oak
  • Shelby Township
  • St. Clair Shores
  • Sterling Heights
  • Troy
  • Utica
  • Village of Lake Orion


2021 WaterTowns®
  • Keego Harbor
  • Pleasant Ridge






A hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city or region, placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness and well-being. Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces and capitalizes on a local community's assets, vision and potential. 


Working like a natural forest by capturing and filtering runoff from rooftops, driveways and other hard surfaces, rain gardens are a proven way of using landscaping to beautify and improve neighborhoods, reduce flooding, clean waterways, protect natural habitats and save millions of dollars in pollution clean-up and massive utility construction projects. Rain gardens also improve air quality and provide habitat for bees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife. 


Permeable pavers are separated by joints filled with crushed aggregate, allowing the movement of air and water around the paving material. This paving system allows tree roots and the ground below to breathe, and when it rains, water enters the joints between the solid impervious pavers and flows through the paver system. As water runs through the aggregate, the pavers become a filter for urban pollutants and capture stormwater runoff. 


By creating a natural treatment area, bioretention cells naturally remove contaminants from stormwater runoff by directing it from a parking lot into a depressed area consisting of a grass buffer strip, sand bed, ponding area, organic layer and native plants. The runoff passes over or through a sand bed that slows the runoff's velocity and distributes it evenly along the length of the ponding area to be filtered and absorbed by the soil and plants.


Naturalized shorelines prevent shoreline erosion, slow and filter stormwater runoff and provide biodiversity amongst plants, fish and animals. Native plants on a riverbank or lake’s edge have densely interwoven root systems that are required to physically stabilize a shoreline. These deep, strong roots are especially designed to hold the soil in place while withstanding the energy of hitting waves, ice movement and stormwater runoff. 





By building stronger connections to the water resources within their communities, the CRWC helps municipalities enhance watershed protection while improving public spaces by assisting with green infrastructure, redevelopment opportunities, stormwater management and improved access to recreation both on and near our lakes and rivers. To help make your city, town or village a designated WaterTowns® community, contact us today!

watertown® funders

Many thanks to our friends at the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation for their generous support of this program. Other funding partners include the MDEQ’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Program, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, the Office of the Great Lakes Coastal Zone Management Program, ITC Holdings, DTE Energy and REI.

Webinar series


Art & Culture Heritage

Recorded May 28, 2020








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