Detroit River discharge

How much water flows through the Detroit River?

March 1, 2018 - Author: Justin Selden, Michigan State University Extension

The Huron to Erie Corridor includes the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River. Much of Michigan’s economy and drinking water depends on this throughway. But, how much water flows through the area?  The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a website that provides access to water-resources data collected at approximately 1.9 million sites in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. 

The Detroit River data is taken at Fort Wayne just downstream of downtown Detroit and includes discharge, water velocity and gauge height. The data dates back to October 2008, and over that time the average discharge is approximately 5,200 cubic meters per second. There are just over 264 gallons in a cubic meter of water. To put in perspective an Olympic-size swimming pool is 2,500 cubic meters, the Detroit River discharges over twice that amount every second. The following is a chart of the discharge of the Detroit River based on different time frames. 

Discharge of the Detroit River

Time Frame

Cubic Meters Discharged

Gallons Discharged

Second

5,200

1,373,694

Minute

312,000

82,421,664

Hour

18,720,000

4,945,299,840

Day

449,280,000

118,687,196,160

Week

3,144,960,000

830,810,373,120

Year

163,987,200,000

43,320,826,598,400

In one year, over 43 trillion gallons of water pass through the Detroit River. 

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