Detroit City Council unanimously approves ordinance aimed at protecting the Detroit Riverfront

Local 4 Defenders’ investigation exposed violations at riverfront properties

City council unanimously passed a Detroit River Ordinance aimed at protecting the Detroit River.
City council unanimously passed a Detroit River Ordinance aimed at protecting the Detroit River.

DETROIT – City council unanimously passed a Detroit River Ordinance aimed at protecting the Detroit River.

The ordinance means the city and businesses will be held more accountable for what happens on the riverfront. It also means there will be more enforcement and inspections.

The policy is, in part, reaction to a series of reports by the Local 4 Defenders. We featured extensive reporting on the Nov. 2019 dock collapse at an unlicensed site that sent potentially harmful contaminants into the river. Investigations also exposed violations at other riverfront properties.



The Detroit River Protection Ordinance would require regular inspections, preventative maintenance planning as well as monitoring structural integrity on riverfront properties.

“The ordinance is working to do three things: Prevent future incidents from happening again, protecting the Detroit River and in Great Lakes drinking water sources, and holding people accountable. There are a number of bad actors who put our water bodies and waterways at risk and so making sure that they’re held accountable is important,” Detroit resident and community organizer Justin Onwenu said.

That includes the city. Officials will have to report to city council every two years on the state of the waterfront.

Council member Raquel Castañeda-López sponsored the bill and said Detroit residents deserve the right to play on the waterfront and drink the water without fear for their health or safety.


Read: Detroit’s West Riverfront getting new sport house thanks to $11M donation from William Davidson Foundation


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.