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1300 Bluff Street
Suite 114
Flint, MI 48504
Ph: 810.767.6490

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The FRWC is a non-political, non-partisan nonprofit organization; as such, we do not endorse candidates for political office.

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What is Watershed anyway?

Good Question!  Let us show you!

Flint River Watershed: The Heart of Michigan

The Flint River Watershed is more than 1,358 square miles and encompasses portions of 7 counties, 20 cities & villages, and 58 townships. The Watershed drains this large land area through the Flint River and all the tributaries of the Flint. It includes most of Genesee and Lapeer Counties, and parts of Shiawassee, Oakland, Tuscola, Sanilac and Saginaw Counties. The Native American name for this river was Pewonigowink, meaning “river of fire stone”. The Flint River is 78.3-mile-long and is formed in Lapeer County near Columbiaville where the river’s South Branch and North Branch come together. The river is supplemented by four major creeks, the Kearsley (draining the south and central portions of the east side of Genesee County), Thread (draining the south central part of the county), Swartz (draining the Swartz Creek area), and Misteguay (draining the area near the northern section of the border of Genesee and Shiawassee counties). The river empties into the Shiawassee River in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge near the city of Saginaw. Within the refuge, the Cass and Tittabawassee rivers combine with the Shiawassee to form the Saginaw River. The Saginaw empties into the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. The Flint RIver Watershed is a sub-watershed of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

A watershed is an area of land which drains into a particular body of water. Just as when you pour water in a bathtub, it all ends up in the drain, when it rains on the surface, that water flows to a particular body of water. That water can flow both above the ground through lakes, streams, and wetlands, or below the ground through groundwater and springs.





Dive Deeper into the Flint River Watershed…

Subwatersheds of the Flint River

The Flint River Watershed is made up of 18 smaller watersheds, such as Kearsley Creek and Swartz Creek.

School Districts in the Flint River Watershed

The Flint River has 1,639 total river miles. Over 753 of those river miles have water in them all the time.

Political boundaries of the Flint River Watershed

The Flint River Watershed is more than 1,358 square miles and encompasses portions of 7 counties, 20 cities & villages, and 58 townships.

History of the Flint River Watershed

The 1,358 square mile Flint River Watershed in home to over 600,000 people, nearly half of whom drink groundwater affected by the Flint River; and over 250,000 more use the River as the backup supply for drinking water. Thousands live along its banks and even more recreate on the river and its associated lakeside beaches.

The Flint River and its tributaries are an important resource for fish and wildlife and provides spawning habitat for small mouth bass, walleye, Northern pike and other Saginaw Bay fisheries. The upper stretches of Thread Creak, kearsley Creek, and the South Branch of the Flint River are designated as cold water fisheries by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The high quality of these streams also means they face the most threat to degradation from development and other land use practices.

Our watershed encompasses a wide variety of jurisdictions, including 59 townships, 43 school districts, 25 cities and villages, 25 county commission districts, 9 state house districts, 7 state senate districts, 7 counties, and 4 U.S. House Districts.

Sauk, Onottoway, and later Chippewa, and Ottawa Indians originally populated the Flint River. The Native American name for this river was Pewonigowink, meaning “river of fire stone”. European settlement first came with French fur traders.  “Lapeer” is an anglicization of the French la pierre, which means “flint” or “flint stone.  A permanent trading post was established in what became the city of Flint in 1819 with the arrival of Jacob Smith. Trapping soon gave way to farming, and in the second half o the 19th century, this switched over to lumbering. As the forest were depleted, manufacturing became the primary economic driver of the area. (From the Flint River Assessment, by Joseph Leonardi and Wilima Gruhn, 2001.)

What does this mean for you?

As part of the Flint River Watershed, anything you do can flow downstream and potentially harm your neighbors. We are all connected by the water that flows past us over our yards and streets and into the storm drains and roadside ditches. What you do at your home, in your car, your place of school or work, and at the places you play all can have an important effect on the Flint River.

Learn more about the Flint Riverfront Restoration Plan