The Detroit, Michigan skyline from the water on a beautiful, sunny day. The sky is bright blue and filled with fluffy, white clouds.
Conservation in Detroit The path forward for Detroit is through green stormwater infrastructure: green space and natural plants that absorb and slow stormwater runoff, reducing overflows and flooding, while also creating much-needed public access to nature. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp
Stories in Michigan

Building a Healthier Detroit

TNC is working toward a future where people and nature thrive in this iconic American city.

Explore the green path forward for Detroit, Michigan.

Like many aging cities in North America, Detroit’s infrastructure is in need of extensive upgrades to combat the surface flooding and combined sewer overflows that have become increasingly more common as heavy rain events become more frequent. However, traditional “gray” infrastructure is extremely costly; for a city whose limited dollars must cover a multitude of critical needs, an alternative solution must be found.

We believe green stormwater infrastructure—the installation of plants, trees and permeable surfaces to help capture and slow stormwater runoff—may be that alternative solution. Less costly than traditional stormwater infrastructure, engineered natural infrastructure reduces the burden on cities’ sewer systems, reduces street and basement flooding and ultimately reduces the amount of pollutants entering our waterways. Further, it provides habitat for wildlife and green spaces for recreation and beautifies neighborhoods.

Ways Cities Are Capturing Stormwater

Cities and landowners are using a variety of techniques to trap stormwater and help it seep into the ground quickly. Some of the most cost-effective methods bring more greenery and nature into cities.

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Seeking Nature in Our Cities

Explore TNC's work with green stormwater infrastructure in Michigan. Click on each tile to learn more.

View from the water of sun setting behind the Detroit skyline.
Bringing Nature to Cities Access to the benefits nature provides—such as clean water, cool air and protection from flooding—is essential for human health and well-being. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp
Aerial image of Eastern Market District in Detroit.
Eastern Market District TNC has partnered with Detroit’s iconic Eastern Market, a historic food district, to bring green stormwater infrastructure to the area. © Fauna Creative


Eastern Market Partnership

For more than 100 years, it has been a familiar sight in Detroit’s iconic Eastern Market district: the massive red brick market shed teeming on Saturday mornings with customers and local vendors, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and baked goods. Often spoken of as one of the oldest open-air public markets in the country, Detroit’s Eastern Market is a diverse, storied and thriving social and cultural environment.

TNC has partnered with Eastern Market to bring green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to the district. GSI is an engineered design that uses green space and natural plant material to absorb, retain and slow stormwater runoff.

This work is part of the Eastern Market Neighborhood Framework plan, a vision that thinks big and creatively about GSI, with an eye toward the preservation of the Eastern Market community. Envisioning an expansive, multi-acre network of greenways that manage stormwater, the framework calls for beautiful, publicly accessible natural spaces to be incorporated into the redevelopment footprint of new buildings constructed in the Greater Eastern Market.

A group of bicyclists cross a bridge in Detroit, MI.
Greening Cities Across Detroit, community groups, local nonprofits and city planners are implementing or supporting the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp


Detroit Stormwater Hub

The Detroit Stormwater Hub is a website and interactive map that shares information about green stormwater infrastructure projects across Detroit and houses a collection of community-informed resources covering green stormwater infrastructure topics from technical design to media coverage. Built by the Detroit community for the Detroit community, the hub features real projects, local best practices, stories and resources.

The Detroit Stormwater Hub is comprised of two main elements:

  1. A map and database of green stormwater infrastructure projects in Detroit with locations, images and project information.
  2. A knowledge base of relevant, local resources including green stormwater infrastructure best practices, stories, educational resources and tools designed to support this work in the city of Detroit.

The result of a unique collaboration between TNC, the City of Detroit and an advisory group of community-based organizations, nonprofits, local government and technical experts, this dynamic project and its partners are committed to making a significant impact on stormwater management by getting credible, local green stormwater infrastructure information into the hands of people who can use it.