What's next for Stormwater Management?

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 Michigan and America 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 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 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.
 

In fact, new research commissioned by SBN finds that Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW) stormwater management plan will produce $4 billion in total economic impact for Philadelphia, including supporting an average of 1,160 jobs annually. This is truly an instructive case for how a green approach can advance a triple bottom line economy in which people, planet, and profit all thrive.

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 bills.
 

City Commissioners are now asking staff members to look into ways to give credits on those fees to owners who have green features such as permeable pavement that reduce stormwater runoff.

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.
 

In 2011, MMSD built a large basin on the Milwaukee County Grounds. It's a 17-foot-deep sunken pool with grassy walls that, when full, looks like two connected natural lagoons. The basin can hold up to 315 million gallons of water.
 

The tunnel collects untreated sewage and storm water during heavy rains, storing it until it can be treated. Before the tunnel, the region used to have 50 to 60 overflows every year. Now, with the completion of the Deep Tunnel and other projects, the average is one to two overflows.


But not everything that manages how water flows is so large-scale, says Chapman. Take green infrastructure.

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. The soccer field, for instance, is also a detention pond, storing stormwater and preventing flooding, while also recharging our precious groundwater. The volleyball court, is a stormwater sand filter, slowly treating polluted runoff. The popular Meyer Green includes permeable pavement and landscaping to capture stormwater and provide a sunny recreation spot for students. Elsewhere, important changes are also underway. Some campus irrigation is now supplied by harvested rainwater, parking lots throughout campus have been installed using porous pavement and biofilters have been installed to improve aesthetics and infiltrate stormwater runoff.

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.
 

But this relief comes at a heavy cost. The stormwater that streams down our streets and into our creeks and rivers is heavily polluted. Oil, gasoline, industrial runoff, heavy metals and many tons of trash are carried by the rain, untreated, straight to our waterways and ocean. This pollution destroys ecosystems, kills wildlife and dirties our beaches. Not to mention that billions of gallons of much-needed fresh water drain out to sea.

February 12, 2018

New Orleans Hopes 'Gutter Buddies' Will Keep Mardi Gras Beads Out Of Storm Drains

In 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.
 

After each day's parades, street sweeper trucks and crews do their best to pick up the parade detritus — beads and other throws, beer cans, plastic bags, light-up necklaces that have lost their glow. City officials have even used the garbage tonnage they collect as a sort of carnival-success barometer.

But even with the massive cleanup operation, some trash gets left behind. And it turns out Mardi Gras is terrible for the flood-prone city's storm drains.

January 10, 2018

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.

The business, not identified by Macomb County or City of Warren officials, operates near 11 Mile Road and Bunert Road. Dye-testing confirmed the building's sanitary sewer line — containing bathroom and possibly other wastes — is flowing into a nearby storm drain that drains to the Red Run Drain, a major stormwater canal for Oakland and Macomb counties that flows on to the Clinton River and eventually reaches Lake St. Clair.

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.

"In Ann Arbor, precipitation has increased markedly - more than 45% over the past fifty years," Taylor writes in Part 2 of his annual report released this week. "That amounts to more than 40 Michigan Stadiums worth of additional water every year!

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.

October 23, 2017

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.

 

When you think of rebuilding America's infrastructure, bioswales, artificial wetlands and coral reefs probably don't spring to mind. But they should.

October 06, 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.

October 05, 2017

How to fix Lake St. Clair's environmental problems — and why it hasn't happened yet

The raw or partially treated sewage entering Lake St. Clair — which has contributed to weeks of closed beaches every summer and areas of mucky, smelly shorelines — can be stopped.

July 05, 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.

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.

July 31, 2017

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. There’s a hole around the drain, Williams added. They jotted notes on a clipboard. The library parking lot at Notre Dame of Maryland University does not have the worst stormwater pollution controls, they agreed, but they could use improvement.

Williams and Jett are among the 10 Baltimore City residents undergoing a stormwater training program through Civic Works, a Baltimore nonprofit, and the Center for Watershed Protection, based in Ellicott City. The program is one of several new initiatives in the city, which seeks to unite a willing yet underemployed workforce with a growing and insatiable need to maintain runoff control structures so Maryland can meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals.

July 14, 2017

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.

 

One way of reducing the need for storm water retention features – and thus reducing costs – is the use of new types of permeable pavement.

June 01, 2017

Jon Allan directs the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.
 

“It’s not just pipes-and-pumps-plumbing,” he says. “It’s using natural flow, it’s using storage, it’s getting infiltration, getting water into ground, and into the groundwater system.”

November 21, 2016

Managing the storm: Efforts encourage property owners to go green, not drain

What does modern stormwater management look like? If you ask engineering experts, more ponds, wetlands and vegetative ditches could replace past practices, such as simply burying bigger pipes.

 

Stronger and more frequent rainstorms — like the Aug. 11, 2014, cloudburst that dumped 5 inches of rain on Southeast Michigan in just a few hours — are likely to hit Michigan over the next several decades. And that's expected to lead to more widespread basement and road flooding, water pollution and possible public health emergencies, according to experts.

April 07, 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.
 

January 24, 2017

Rain gardens continue to flourish, transform Plaster Creek area

A recent hydrology study done in the Alger Heights neighborhood showed that if one out of every eight houses had a curb-cut rain garden, the amount of stormwater runoff into Plaster Creek would return to its pre-settlement volume. 

April 16, 2017

City scales back drain fees after outcry from Detroit businesses, churches

Detroit's water department is preparing to scale back a controversial storm water drainage fee after backlash from businesses and churches that got hit with the hefty $750-per-acre monthly charge.

The city's Board of Water Commissioners will vote Wednesday on a plan to reduce the drainage fee to $125 per acre until July and then phase in increases over the next five fiscal years to $677 by July 2022, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown said.

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The GLRC is supported by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
3135 Pine Tree Rd. Suite 2C, Lansing, MI 48911