Grand River (Michigan)

River Basin Characteristics

Grand River

The Grand River basin is a tributary to Lake Michigan and discharges at Grand Haven, Michigan. The Grand River watershed covers 5,660 square miles and drains portions of Muskegon, Newaygo, Mecosta, Montcalm, Gratiot, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Clinton, Shiawasee, Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, and Jackson counties in Michigan. Major sub-tributaries to the Grand River include the Lower and Upper Grand Rivers, Maple River, and Thornapple River.

Landuse in the Grand River watershed

Land use within the watershed is approximately 53 percent agricultural, 27 percent urban and 20 percent forested. Within the Grand River basin, sources of sediment include erosion from agricultural lands, bank erosion and downcutting in urban areas, construction activities, sand pits and gravel mining along the river, harbor structures which interrupt natural littoral drift, and a lack of monitored BMPs on lands within the basin.

Modeling Approach

SWAT average yaerly sediment yield results for the Grand River

The purpose of this study was to develop a modeling tool that could be used by local stakeholders to minimize erosion and sediment delivered to the Grand River and, subsequently, the Grand Haven Harbor. In this study, a model of the lower Grand River watershed was created using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Several scenarios that looked at the effects of dams, tillage practices, and the use of filter strips were developed and modeled. Modeling was completed in 2006. Training for state and local partners took place in September of 2006.

Use and Applications

This study will allow better assessment of future dredging requirements as the watershed is further urbanized. Future projects in the area, including stream bank stabilization, fish habitat restoration, dam removal, and TMDLS, will also benefit from the work done in this study.

Project Partners

For More Information:


James P. Selegean, P.E., Ph.D.
Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
Office: (313) 226-6791
Fax: (313) 226-2398