Nankin Lake Restoration Project Underway

A multi-million dollar restoration project is underway at Nankin Lake. You may have noticed the large white tarps and heavy equipment along Hines Drive lately. The project aims to restore the fish habitat as well as increase the amount of water the lake can hold during severe storm events.

The lake was created via the construction of a dam in 1921 and is currently maintained by Wayne County. The lake is located just west of Nankin Mills along Hines Drive and Ann Arbor Trl.

Water spills over the Nankin Lake Dam along Ann Arbor Trl – Photo by Lonnie Schouster

Over the years, Nankin Lake has slowly filled in with sediment and other debris. Due to this buildup, it has become shallow in many areas and has visible islands, decreasing the overall acreage of water and fish habitat. The lake has also been negatively affected by the invasion of phragmites and narrow-leaf cattail. Overall, fish productivity and the carrying capacity of the lake have declined dramatically.

These ongoing problems have led the Environmental Protection Agency to declare the waterway as an ‘area of concern.’ Thanks to the dedication and hard work of groups such as Friends of the Rouge, Alliance of Rouge Communities and so many more, something is being done to clean up the lake and surrounding streams.

Wayne County was awarded grant funding from the EPA for the restoration project and work will continue over the next couple of years. Maintenance will be ongoing.

The Rouge River Advisory Council recently approved a list of projects that need to be completed in order to remove the AOC classification for the rouge and this project is just one of many, but still a huge step forward.

Lake Restoration Project Goals

The Nankin Lake Restoration project will restore the ecosystem functions the lake provides; including valuable spawning, nursery, and cover habitat for fishes and other aquatic species of all life stages. As part of the restoration efforts, sediment will be removed and the reservoir basin will be reshaped to create more open water habitat and provide an over-wintering deep water habitat for fish.

A sediment fore-bay will also be constructed as part of the project. This will work to capture sediment & debris from the river before it enters the lake. The sediment fore-bay will also provide Wayne County with a location to monitor the lake and provide maintenance when conditions require.

To accelerate the restoration of game fish and forage fish within the lake, native fish will be stocked following dredging and habitat construction. The completed habitat restoration will provide habitat for pike, yellow perch, salamanders, sunfish, black crappies, frogs, aquatic insect and more. In terms of vegetation, invasive species management will be conducted in the area, targeting invasive species such as garlic mustard, buckthorn and Siberian elm. Additionally, native vegetation will be planted in shallow water areas and around the lake for habitat and to improve the overall water quality of Nankin Lake.

Stay tuned to the Westland Gazette for updates on the Nankin Lake Project!