Ground-water flow and quality near the Upper Great Lakes connecting channels, Michigan

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4232

Prepared in cooperation with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency



The Upper Great Lakes connecting channels are the St. Marys, St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, and Lake St. Clair. The effect of ground water on the connecting channels is largely unknown, and the controls on its movement and quality are undefined. Geologic, hydrologic, and environmental conditions near the channels have been examined.for this investigation. Included in the study area is a 50-mile reach of channel beginning at Whitefish Bay and extending to Neebish Island, and a 90-mile reach of channel between Port Huron and Pointe Mouillee in Lake Erie.

Glacial deposits, which transmit most ground water to the channels, range from less than 100 feet in thickness in the southern part of the St. Clair-Detroit River area to more than 250 feet in thickness in the northern part. Marine seismic surveys were used at some locations to determine the thickness of deposits. Glacial deposits in the St. Marys River area range from less than 10 feet to more than 300 feet in thickness. Permeable bedrock in the southern reach of the Detroit River area and throughout most of the St. Marys River area may contribute substantial amounts of water to the channels. Total ground-water discharge to the channels, by area, is estimated as follows! St. Marys area, 76 cubic feet per second; St. Clair area, 11 cubic feet per second; Lake St. Clair area, 46 cubic feet per second; and Detroit area, 54 cubic feet per second.

Analyses of water from 31 wells, 25 of which were installed by the U.S. Geological Survey, were made for organic compounds, trace metals, and other substances. Volatile hydrocarbons, and base neutral, acid extractable, and chlorinated neutral compounds were not detectable in water at most locations. Concentrations of trace metals, however, were higher than common in natural waters at some locations.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water flow and quality near the Upper Great Lakes connecting channels, Michigan
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Lansing, MI
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
Document: vii, 82 p.; 2 Plates: 20.96 x 17.54 inches and 17.50 x 17.88 inches
United States
Other Geospatial:
St. Clair-Detroit River