We know that stormwater management is crucial for the health of our watershed, but it isn't free. Your tax dollars support our built MS4 infrastructure of catch basins, drainage ponds and swales that help separate large items of litter, settle sediment, and filter impurities from stormwater before it enters our surface water, making the public an essential voice in designing stormwater management plans and policy.
As urban development increases, pressure on our storm sewers and surface water will continue to grow. The GLRC hopes to engage and equip the public with the knowledge to help shape stormwater management plans that meet their communities' current and future needs.
Communities around the country and state have developed different strategies for protecting their natural and built resources. From community funded rain gardens that minimize the amount of runoff entering the system, to charging fees to landowners based on impervious acreage, there are options.
Visit this page to keep current on what's happening around the country and to learn about the creative solutions others have proposed or implemented, and share your opinions with your local and state representatives.
August 2, 2023
Road salt pollution in many US lakes could stabilize at or below thresholds set by the EPA
Since de-icing with road salt began in the 1930s, the salinity of lakes across much of the US has been steadily increasing, posing a potential threat to aquatic life and drinking water supplies. However, a cautiously optimistic new study in Limnology and Oceanography Letters concludes that if we can hold steady or decrease road salt use, levels in many lakes could stabilize below thresholds set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“For the majority of US lakes, road salt pollution could be a solvable problem, if we put our minds to it,” said lead author Chris Solomon, who studies lake ecology at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. However, he cautions that more research is needed to better understand what actually is a safe level of salt in a freshwater ecosystem.
June 26, 2023
Why your flood risk could be a lot worse than you think
The federal government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a generation of new roads, bridges and sewers — which could be overwhelmed by floodwaters the moment they are installed.
That’s because federal estimates about flood risk haven’t kept up with climate change, according to a study published on Monday in the Journal of Hydrology.
First Street Foundation was auditing the gold standard of government rainfall calculations: the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Atlas 14 model.
May 1, 2023
More Michigan cities partake in No Mow May 2023: What to know
Doing less work pays off sometimes. This month, it's even encouraged.
No Mow May, an annual conservation program, advocates reducing or temporarily suspending yardwork —especially lawn mowing— to keep early spring pollinators safe until they emerge for the season.
"Mowing less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of wildlife including bees and other pollinators," according to nonprofit Bee City USA. "The start of the growing season is a critical time for hungry, newly emerged native bees. Floral resources may be hard to find, especially in urban and suburban landscapes. By allowing it to grow longer, and letting flowers bloom, your lawn can provide nectar and pollen to help your bee neighbors thrive."
January 28, 2023
Advisory warns of PFAS in beef from Michigan cattle farm
HARTLAND, MI — Officials warn that beef from a southeast Michigan cattle farm contains unsafe levels of toxic PFAS chemicals traced to the application of wastewater biosolids as fertilizer on fields used to grow feed crops.
On Friday, Jan. 28, the Michigan health and agriculture departments issued a joint consumption advisory for beef from the Grostic Cattle Co., a century-old family farm near Hartland that sells directly to consumers and at farmers markets.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) believes that test samples indicated prolonged consumption of meat from the Grostic farm could pose a health risk, although the detected contaminant levels do not meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) internal criteria for issuing a product recall.
January 5, 2023
By the numbers: The 2022 State of the Great Lakes Report
The Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) in Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) presented the 2022 State of the Great Lakes Report to the Legislature Dec. 20 on behalf of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Linked from the OGL website, the report highlights efforts toward a sustainable, equitable, prosperous, and healthy future for Michigan and the Great Lakes. As you might imagine, there are plenty of numbers involved. Here’s a sampling:
More than $1.9 billion for water improvements allocated in the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan to be administered by EGLE (Page 7).
60% renewable energy goal in the MI Healthy Climate Plan (Page 9).
October 14, 2022
Green infrastructure Milwaukee school plants urban forest for stormwater management
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) River Trail School hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and forest planting as it nears completion of an educational green infrastructure project.
The school hosted the event on Thursday, Oct. 6 as it nears the completion of a multi-phase project designed to give students hands-on experiences with business and agriculture while also providing stormwater runoff solutions. Programming at River Trail will educate students about green infrastructure through the natural stormwater management system incorporated in the design of the urban forest.
August 23, 2022
State of the Great Lakes 2022 Reports: A look at prevention, control, and impact mitigation for aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes
The 2022 State of the Great Lakes (SOGL) Highlights and Technical Reports have recently been released, providing an overview of the status and trends in the Great Lakes ecosystems which are managed jointly by the U.S. and Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. More than 180 researchers on both sides of the border contributed to these reports, which represent ongoing collaboration between the U.S. and Canadian governments focusing on Great Lakes water quality.
July 29, 2022
11 Michigan beaches closed, under contamination advisories
As another summer weekend arrives, there are currently 11 Michigan beaches that are either closed or under contamination advisories for unsafe water quality.
Before you head out to enjoy a beach day, check to see if your destination is on the current list of closed or under-advisory beaches, so you can make alternate plans if necessary. These closures and advisories are frequently updated.
June 13, 2022
EPA Announces $6.5 Billion in New Funding Available for Water Infrastructure Projects
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the 2022 notices of funding availability for the agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and the State Infrastructure Financing Authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. This year’s funding will provide up to $6.5 billion in total funding to support $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs.
July 16, 2021
Grosse Pointe residents want solutions in wake of metro Detroit flooding
How does a Grosse Pointe Park intersection suddenly turn into a geyser? And why did sewer water back up into hundreds of basements for the second time in three weeks?
Homeowners across Grosse Pointe want answers.
November 10, 2020
Updates to the E. coli Pollution and Solution Mapper
Several layers in Michigan's E. coli Pollution and Solution Mapper have been updated in order to provide the most up-to-date information. The interactive mapper supports the Statewide E. coli TMDL by providing access to E. coli monitoring results, locations of impaired waters, and information about the potential sources and solutions to bacterial pollution.
August 13, 2019
Cities are dumping sewage into Michigan rivers. Will climate change make the problem worse?
Each year in Michigan, billions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage end up in the state's rivers and eventually in the Great Lakes. That pollution can make people sick. There are two causes. One is poor sewer systems. The second is heavy rains. And climate change could be making the problem worse.
May 09, 2019
Green Infrastructure Helps Manage Water In Milwaukee's Urban Landscape
Rainstorms are a challenge to clean water. They can cause flooding and potentially damaging runoff. But utilities, landscape architects and others are finding solutions — visible everywhere from the county grounds to your neighborhood ice cream shop.
February 12, 2018
New Orleans Hopes 'Gutter Buddies' Will Keep Mardi Gras Beads Out Of Storm Drains
n New Orleans, Mardi Gras is not just Fat Tuesday itself, it's a multi-week celebration. It's also a huge mess.
The plastic beads, cups, and trinkets that fly from the floats don't all get caught — even by the most enthusiastic crowds. And after a bead has hit the ground it immediately turns from prize to garbage, especially in this year's rain and mud
January 10, 2018
Winter road salt, fertilizers turning North American waterways increasingly saltier
Across North America, streams and rivers are becoming saltier, thanks to road deicers, fertilizers and other salty compounds that humans indirectly release into waterways. At the same time, freshwater supplies are becoming more alkaline or basic, the "opposite" of acidic.
January 11, 2018
Stormwater rules help create a growing number of jobs
Two months ago, Sean Williams and Antique Jett would have driven by the field next to a parking lot in Baltimore without a second thought to the gray structure resembling an infield parking pad, or the grate next to it.
But today, they identify instantly what’s wrong. This raised slab, covered in wire mesh and gravel, is supposed to slow down and filter rain runoff before it reaches the drain. But it’s choked by weeds, Jett said.
April 7, 2017
What is the Stormwater Utility Act, what does it aim to do?
House Bill 5991, also known as the Stormwater Utility Act, was introduced to the House by Representative Michael McCready in October of 2016. It aims to address existing stormwater utility implementation law in the state, which restricts a city’s ability to adopt stormwater utilities. The ‘Stormwater Utility Act’ describes the regulatory purposes and criteria for the operation of a stormwater utility. If HB 5991 is passed, it would allow local governments to adopt stormwater utility ordinances and create stormwater management utilities to more effectively and efficiently manage and fund their stormwater infrastructure.
July 18, 2023
WEF releases National MS4 Needs Assessment Survey
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has released the results of its 2022 National Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Needs Assessment Survey.
The survey by WEF’s Stormwater Institute explores MS4 sector needs, as well as common challenges facing regulated U.S. stormwater organizations.
The 2022 survey analysis estimates an annual funding gap for all MS4s in the U.S. to be about $6.2 billion. This year’s survey finds that municipal stormwater programs across the nation face significant challenges in maintaining infrastructure, securing funding, and addressing workforce needs.
May 29, 2023
The Supreme Court Is Crippling Environmental Protections. Where Is Congress?
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson told a room full of governors and state officials that he found the filthy river flowing a mile from the Capitol “disgraceful.” Now the Potomac River runs much cleaner, thanks to the landmark Clean Water Act of 1972 — and that adjective employed by Johnson serves as an apt description today of the failures of the Supreme Court and Congress to protect the nation’s waterways.
After half a century of painstaking restoration under the Clean Water Act, streams and wetlands nationwide are once again at risk of contamination by pollution and outright destruction as a result of a ruling on Thursday by the Supreme Court.
April 4, 2023
Hotter weather not diminishing runoff and river discharge as expected
Runoff and river discharge are important components in Earth's water cycle, but as climate change tightens its grip, heatwaves and instances of drought are increasingly hitting the headlines. One would assume that this hotter weather leads to reduced water runoff, but an innovative way of using information from satellites suggests that this isn't always the case.
Runoff occurs when there is precipitation, but the soil is saturated and has lost its capacity to soak up any more water. The water is then forced to flow over land or through channels until it reaches a stream or a river. Rivers and lakes are a result of runoff.
River discharge, on the other hand, describes the volume of water flowing per second at a given point along a river.
January 26, 2023
Road salt, a stealthy pollutant, is damaging Michigan waters
Road salt is sullying Michigan’s lakes and streams
Despite known hazards, salt use continues to increase
Michigan has no plan for limiting salt pollution
In a dim hangar outside of Traverse City, towering piles of white crystals cast a glow in the twilight.
Salts like those stored at the Grand Traverse County Road Commission maintenance facility keep Michigan roads, parking lots, and sidewalks clear of ice in the winter, a prudent safety measure for motorists and pedestrians. The mobility benefits of salt for a car-centric society, though, have an undesirable environmental side effect that has built up over decades of use: extensive damage to ecosystems and infrastructure.
December 14, 2022
Low-Income Americans Overburdened by Local Funding Needs to Fix Aging Water Infrastructure and Improve Resilience to Climate Change
Jackson, Mississippi isn’t alone in its need to urgently address low-income water affordability challenges. With barriers to clean water for American families thrust into the national spotlight in 2022, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) today issued a new report, “The Growing U.S. Water Affordability Challenge and the Need for Federal Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Funding.” The NACWA report shows that rising income inequality is driving heightened affordability challenges for low-income households in every corner of the country, and that federal investments in water infrastructure – on the decline for decades – are currently insufficient to cover the rising cost of delivering water services.
September 22, 2022
Reproduction of Lake Sturgeon documented in Grand River for first time, researchers say
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A team of researchers has made a major breakthrough in a project aimed to ensure one iconic Great Lakes species thrives in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum and its team of scientists recently documented natural reproduction of Lake Sturgeon in the Grand River for the first time. The museum and its partners – Encompass Socio-Ecological Consulting, John Ball Zoo and Grand Valley State University – captured and released a 6-inch, 4-month-old Lake Sturgeon last week as part of the Lake Sturgeon Juvenile Assessment work.
August 10, 2022
Stormwater and Trash/Plastics
With growing awareness of the impact of trash and plastics on the environment, organizations will need to take bold action to reduce the costs that local governments could bear.
Recent studies suggest that we consume a credit card’s worth of plastic each week through ingestion of microplastics found in our food and in our environment. Plastics are now found in rainwater and on the top of Mount Everest. In short, plastics are everywhere.
NOTE: GLRC is a member of the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance, who produced this article.
July 7, 2022
New ‘Do Not Flush’ labeling law goes into effect across Washington this month
Officials estimate $440 million is spent removing clogs caused by improperly flushed products yearly.
On July 1, the Washington Association of Sewer & Water Districts recognized the effective date of a new law that the agency says will benefit the environment, wastewater infrastructure, and residents throughout the state of Washington.
June 6, 2022
watershed groups fight decades-old pollution
Michigan watersheds are still wracked with pollution from decades ago, along with new runoff, said Rebecca Esselman, the executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council.
When the federal Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, rivers got cleaner, but not perfect, she said.
June 17, 2020
Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund Awards $1.45 Million to Improve Community and Habitat Resilience
Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund partners today announced seven projects selected to receive $1.45 million in grant funding to benefit communities and wildlife habitats in southeast Michigan. The grants awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will leverage $1.85 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of more than $3.3 million.
June 09, 2020
Michigan voters rank fixing roads and other infrastructure top state issue after COVID-19 economic recovery
After reopening the state’s economy and restoring jobs following COVID-19, Michigan voters rank fixing roads and other infrastructure as their top concern and the most important issue facing the state, a new EPIC-MRA poll found.
May 28, 2019
Why Green Stormwater Infrastructure is Smart Policy and Smart Business
Stormwater management is a critical challenge in Philadelphia, especially this time of year. It is fortunate then, that a nature-based approach known as green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), is an economic powerhouse with tremendous benefits that include lower crime rates and reduced health costs for communities and the city as a whole.
May 02, 2019
Using Nature to Tackle Water Infrastructure Challenges: Frontiers of Green Infrastructure Research at Stanford
Walking across the Stanford campus, it’s not unusual to see flocks of active undergraduates playing soccer, serving volleyballs or just generally enjoying one of the many inviting lawns. At first glance, the scene seems like a poster for the benefits of college in California come to life. What the casual observer—and even most students—might not realize is that many of these spaces are serving multiple purposes.
January 10, 2018
Officials: Warren business contributing to e. coli hot spot on red run drain
An industrial business in Warren is leaking E. coli bacteria into a nearby storm drain, making it a likely contributor to "off-the-charts" E. coli counts found last month at two locations, ultimately draining into Lake St. Clair, officials say.
October 23, 2018
Investing In Nature 101: A Triple Win for Cities, Communities, and Developers
America has a big infrastructure problem. More precisely, it has a $3.6 trillion problem. That's what it will take to fix the country's aging roads, bridges, levees, water mains and other systems that sustain our communities and economy, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
July 5, 2017
U.S. EPA report promotes cooperation between parks and stormwater managers
In an effort to encourage effective stormwater management practices on public parks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds released a report, Green Infrastructure in Parks: A Guide to Collaboration, Funding, and Community Engagement.
January 11, 2018
As city infrastructure ages, property owners seek new ways to manage storm water runoff
As environmental regulations on how storm water runoff is handled tighten, property owners are increasingly becoming pressed to manage runoff in innovative ways – or face higher fees from cities and municipalities. Developers are charged by some local governments when stormwater runoff significantly increases the amount of water in storm sewer systems.
June 26, 2023
NOAA’s 1-in-100 year flooding can now be expected every 8 years
Brooklyn (NY) – (June 26, 2023) – First Street Foundation today released their peer-reviewed precipitation model that captures climate-driven changes in heavy rainfall events for the United States and describes the implications for flood risk across the Nation in their report, The 8th National Risk Assessment: The Precipitation Problem. The US government’s current gold standard for precipitation expectations was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), known as “Atlas 14”. The report compares it to the First Street Foundation Precipitation Model (hereafter FSF-PM) to understand the previously unaccounted influence of climate change. It finds that, in the worst cases, what is currently estimated to be an infrequent and severe 1-in-100-year flood event, is a much more frequent 1-in-8-year event.
May 22, 2023
new framework shows how cities across canada can become "living cities"
A recently released report, 'Pathways to Living Cities: A Policy and Governance Framework', a collaboration between Green Communities Canada and researchers at the University of Toronto, shows how green infrastructure can benefit cities.
HUMANS ARE INTUITIVELY DRAWN TO THE natural environment. It is the context in which we have come to evolve as humans in the first place, after all. It calls to us. It calms our nervous system.
Think of the feeling you get when walking through a barren, paved parking lot on a hot summer day. Uncomfortable, maybe a bit suffocated. Then, think of the feeling of walking through a neighborhood lined with mature trees in full bloom, birds twittering in the branches above. A feeling of relief, maybe of aliveness and connection with your surroundings.
February 21, 2023
Detroit expects more extreme heat, flooding amid climate change
From sunshine and 55-plus degree weather to snow and freezing temperatures just a few days later, climate change is affecting winter in the Motor City. This winter is one of the top 10 warmest on record for Detroit, and the city has received a foot less snow than the average for this time of year, according to Ian Lee, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
“We’ve had a little over 19 inches of snow and normally through this point in the season we’d be at 31 inches,” Lee told BridgeDetroit, based on averages from historical records going back to the late 1800s.
The sunshine and warm weather last week was welcomed by some Detroiters, but experts say it’s part of a larger climate change crisis caused by human activities that release greenhouse gas emissions, like burning fossil fuels for transportation and electricity.
January 20, 2023
Volunteers find high road salt levels in Michigan waterways
LANSING – Volunteers in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are fighting road salt pollution with catchy sayings painted on snowplow blades.
The group is in the hometown of the Izaak Walton League, a national environmental conservancy that created a nationwide program to monitor chloride levels and advocate for reduced use of road salt. The group has recorded high chloride readings in cities across the Midwest and the Northeast, with the highest concentrations in Michigan.
Road salt contains chloride, a toxic compound that dissolves in water. When it’s applied to icy surfaces in the winter, it can drain into streams and lakes.
November 15, 2022
Uncertainty for Michigan rivers, residents as Consumers reconsiders its 13 dams
Consumers Energy’s license to generate hydropower at the Alcona Dam, on the Au Sable River, expires in 2034. The company is now considering the fate of Alcona and 12 other dams that generate small amounts of expensive power, and need hundreds of millions of dollars in maintenance and upgrades.
Consumers Energy is considering whether to keep its 13 hydropower dams on MI rivers
The dams are environmentally and financially costly, and deliver little energy. But their reservoirs are beloved for recreation
The outcome could dramatically alter Michigan’s rivers and surrounding communities
September 14, 2022
saving mowers and wildlife
more state dots embracing biodegradable erosion control
A call from a concerned landowner in 2008 prompted the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) to overhaul its erosion control specifications. The landowner had noticed more than 50 northern water snakes, a state species of greatest conservation need, entangled in plastic erosion control netting along a local road. Chris Slesar, environmental resources coordinator with VTrans, took the call and removed as many snakes as he could. After the incident he asked VTrans engineers if there was a product that would control erosion but allow wildlife to escape.
August 10, 2022
meaningful mitigation: Green infrastructure improves resiliency of an urban city design
Green infrastructure provides simple changes that can transform the feel of community while improving the resiliency of an urban city design.
With more intense storms and flood events in urban areas, green infrastructure brings essential benefits that continue to rise in value. Green infrastructure is often defined as a range of design measures that aim to reduce the impact of storm events on existing sewer infrastructure by detaining and treating stormwater locally, helping to divert excess flows away from local waterways, streets, businesses, and homes.
June 14, 2022
Ecological Amenity or Weedy Pit?
Green Street Rain Gardens, Aesthetics, and Social Values
Evenly trimmed lawns and crisply edged plant beds filled with dyed brown, red, or black mulch. Sheared evergreen shrubs and plants bred for vibrant flowers or patterned leaves. Plants spaced far apart within wide expanses of mulch—seasonal appearances of chrysanthemums, pansies, and other annuals. You may recognize this combination of landscape components and traits: the residential yard norm permeates the varied geographic regions of the U.S. and has withstood the test of time.
July 16, 2021
Why Ingham County is experiencing a hot, rain-filled summer
Heavy and frequent rainfall is not typical for July in Michigan, but Ingham County and other areas are experiencing it.
"It is growing consensus that the weather we’re experiencing this year is very likely due to climate change or it’s worsened by climate change,” ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry professor Stephen Hamilton said.
July 10, 2021
Detroit going green to help slow flooding during heavy rains
Massive amounts of green are being spent to find “green” ways to prevent basements, yards, streets and freeways in Detroit from flooding during heavy storms like one last month.
Of $100 million pumped each year into infrastructure upgrades for the city’s aging water and sewer systems, $10 million goes toward installing detention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavement. Called green stormwater infrastructure, the features hold and slowly release rainfall into sewers, lessening flooding that has plagued Detroit and other older cities for decades.
June 12, 2020
17 beaches across Michigan are closed or have contamination advisories
Stormwater runoff and sewage overflow issues after heavy rains this week have caused problems at some popular beach spots across Michigan. Heading into the weekend, at least 17 beaches across the state were either closed or had contamination advisories issued by the state, as of this morning.
September 24, 2019
Stormwater utility billing changes coming in Royal Oak
A $2 million settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit against the city of Royal Oak required the city to change how it bills residents for debt service on the Oakland County Water Resources Commission’s George W. Kuhn Drain.
May 14, 2019
Royal Oak looks at giving green credits for stormwater charges
By early next year Royal Oak residents and businesses will start being billed for stormwater fees based on how much water runoff their properties generate.
The new billing system will replace charges that used to show up on city water bill
October 22, 2018
L.A.'s stormwater is so filthy it's illegal. Measure W would clean it up
When rain comes to Los Angeles, a certain kind of relief sets in. The land springs to life. The dust and grit and oil slick, accumulated over a summer of dry weather, gets washed away down storm drains. Everything gleams anew.
January 11, 2018
$160M worth of projects could address Ann Arbor stormwater issues
Ann Arbor's stormwater system was developed decades ago to meet the needs of a smaller, drier city, and it's not enough to handle today's storms, says Mayor Christopher Taylor.
That's why some neighborhoods and other areas of the city have experienced recurring flooding problems during heavy rains.
October 6, 2017
Multidisciplinary research team explores smart stormwater management
The National Science Foundation has awarded a multidisciplinary research group, led by Assoc. Engineering Prof. Jonathan Goodall, $2.5 million to pursue research in the management of stormwater and transportation during flood events in Norfolk, Va.
August 18, 2017
Michigan City Awarded $650,000 to Improve Trail Creek
The Michigan City Sanitary District has been awarded a $650,000 grant for the Cheney Run Wetland Project. The grant, awarded by Sustain Our Great Lakes, will help the City create approximately five acres of wetlands on Trail Creek to manage and treat stormwater from the Cheney Run stormwater sewer system. The wetlands will improve water quality in Trail Creek and Lake Michigan, increase recreation opportunities, and improve habitat for animals and plants.