Park Bench on Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan.
Detroit Park Bench Park Bench on Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp

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Public-private partnership launches online resource to map green stormwater projects across Detroit

Detroit, MI

A community-based collaborative effort launches the Detroit Stormwater Hub as the one place to learn, share and track green stormwater projects across Detroit. The site is now live at www.detroitstormwater.org.

The Detroit Stormwater Hub lists more than 150 public and private green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects from across the city, showing how GSI in Detroit manages 217.5 million gallons of stormwater annually. These projects include bioretention gardens at city parks, rain gardens on residential property, and green roofs and pervious pavement at commercial property. The map not only shows the location of each project, but each site has a project card with details of the GSI type and impact, including photos for many of the projects. The Detroit Stormwater Hub allows the public to submit GSI projects, find resources and engage with GSI in their neighborhoods.

The storytelling and mapping website was created from a community conversation initiated four years ago between nonprofits, funders and City of Detroit departments all focused on improving education on and use of stormwater management practices. The Erb Family Foundation along with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Michigan brought the thought leaders together. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) made a commitment as, a lead partner, to maintain the website with support of the community-based advisory group and assistance from other city departments including the Department of Innovation and Technology and the Office of Sustainability.

“The Detroit Stormwater Hub showcases the social, economic, and environmental benefits of GSI as we work to reduce combined sewer overflows and improve water quality in the Detroit River and Great Lakes,” said Dr. Neil C. Hawkins, president, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. “We are pleased to partner on this city-community effort.”

Stormwater runs off hard, impervious surfaces, like parking lots and rooftops, into the city’s combined sewer system, picking up pollutants along the way. GSI replicates natural systems to reduce runoff volume, filter pollutants, and cut down on flooding by slowing the movement of water into the combined sewer system or channeling it into the ground. GSI practices include bioretention gardens, bioswales, disconnected impervious surfaces, green roofs, rain barrels, residential rain gardens, and subsurface detention. Many projects also receive a drainage charge credit from DWSD.

“DWSD is a leader in stormwater management, and it was logical for us to commit to being a lead partner with The Nature Conservancy in developing the Detroit Stormwater Hub and then maintain the site for years to come,” said Palencia Mobley, P.E., DWSD deputy director and chief engineer. “Together, we will become the greenest city in America by utilizing our vast land resources and technical expertise among both public and private institutions in our city. We want to thank the Erb Family Foundation, TNC, the advisory group members, and other city departments for their collaboration and support.”

“The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to be a part of this work promoting Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Detroit” said Valerie Strassberg, P.E., TNC’s program director, Detroit. “This provides the opportunity to measure the collective impact of green stormwater infrastructure projects throughout the city – public and private, large and small. We are thankful to the funders who have made this effort possible, the community partners investing their time into its development, and the City for supporting the Detroit Stormwater Hub through this pioneering partnership.”

The advisory group shares a common goal in advancing GSI in Detroit for more green space and blue waters. The 25-member advisory group includes technical experts, nonprofits, community-based organizations and local institutions. It aims to help people in Detroit share GSI success stories, find GSI in neighborhoods, and learn about how others are installing and maintaining GSI.

In Detroit, the city and the community are increasingly turning to innovative GSI solutions that manage stormwater and provide a host of additional community benefits.

Stormwater advisory group member Erma Leaphart, Conservation Associate Organizer, Great Lakes Program, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, said, “As a life-long resident of Detroit, my vision is one of a vibrant and healthy community with nature all around. Green Stormwater Infrastructure’s goal is to keep our rivers clean by reducing sewage overflows, but the practices are also wonderful examples of how to bring us closer to nature. I am grateful for the accomplishments by city government, businesses and organizations. I am most inspired and in awe of the projects and efforts by everyday people who care.”

About The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) serves more than 230,000 accounts that includes a residential population of nearly 700,000. DWSD’s water network consists of more than 2,700 miles of water main and nearly 3,000 miles of sewer collection piping within the city of Detroit. To learn more about DWSD or to request water services, make payments, or report water problems, call DWSD Customer Care at 313-267-8000 or contact us at www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.