Posts Tagged ‘Stormwater’
On a dreary Halloween morning a group of 20 intrepid University of Michigan students, boarded a trolly for a whirlwind tour of locations in Ann Arbor that show how one city is preparing for a changing climate. Guided by myself and two colleagues from the City of Ann Arbor, Jen Lawson and Jamie Kidwell, the group heard stories and learned of strategies for protecting homes from flooding, trees from dying, and residents from suffering from heat and cold related health issues and high energy costs.
As a society we still need to do everything in our power to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling global climate change. At the same time, we are already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate which are certain to continue into the future even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow.
In the Huron River Watershed, arguably the most potentially damaging trends we are seeing in our weather patterns are larger rainfall events and more frequent and longer high heat events. Larger storm events cause flooding and overburden or damage important infrastructure (stormwater systems, dams, water utilities, roads, homes and businesses). Consecutive high heat days are a significant threat to human health and can cause droughts and brownouts. Actions that reduce the impact of these changes can be considered climate adaptation actions, or actions that build resilience to climate change.
Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County have started making investments now that help prepare for these changes. A few examples:
- The City has conducted a detailed analysis predicting where flooding is likely to occur which is helping prioritize stormwater management decisions like where pipes need replacing and where green infrastructure (like rain gardens) can help
- Washtenaw County has recently adopted new rules requiring additional infiltration and detention of rain water for new and re-developments protecting our river from erosion, pollution and risk of damaging floods
- Ann Arbor’s Green Rental program is helping improve energy efficiency in low income areas making staying cool or warm during extremes more affordable
- The Urban Forestry and Community Forest Management Plan identifies areas that are in need of shade trees to provide cooling and recommends species likely to survive more climate extremes
The City of Ann Arbor has recently released a series of climate videos that share more about why this work is a priority and what is being done. Here is the one on extreme storms:
Check out all four videos at a2energy.org/climate.
The students learned a lot about what is going on in their own backyard. I hope these links help you do the same. All aboard!
Searching for ways to care for your waterfront?
“Waterfront Wisdom” provides helpful information regarding how to best maintain shoreline property and protect water quality at the same time. Every waterfront homeowner has a unique opportunity to help improve the health of the Huron River watershed while maintaining a beautiful shoreline and keeping waterways clean for swimming, fishing and boating.
Some of the many tips that can be found inside:
- Minimize runoff by installing a rain garden
- Use native plants to keep geese away
- Prevent soil erosion by growing a natural shoreline along the water
- Choose phosphorus-free fertilizer or avoid fertilizer altogether to help reduce algal blooms
- Prevent excess nutrients and harmful pathogens with proper septic system maintenance
You will not only provide healthy habitat for wildlife and support recreation, but also protect drinking water.
If you have any questions or would like a printed copy mailed to you, please contact Pam Labadie at email@example.com.
For Further Information:
Inspire River Protection With Art!
Come decorate the curbside connections to the Huron River! Ann Arbor artist David Zinn and Karim Motawi will lead the crowd in chalking four of our downtown stormdrain inlets into works of art. We provide the chalk, you bring the creativity!
When: Friday, June 13, 2014, 6-8pm
Where: The Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair, at the Liberty and Main intersection and the Huron River Watershed Council booth in front of the Melting Pot.
Presented by HRWC in partnership with the 14th Annual Mayor’s Green Fair and the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission.
We depend on stormdrains to keep our streets from flooding during storms. Yet, these devices also direct litter and polluted rainwater straight into the Huron River. We’ll show and tell the stormdrain connection and recruit families to adopt their neighborhood stormdrains, keeping them for rain only by removing litter, leaves and other debris in the spring, summer, and fall months.
Can’t make it to the Green Fair? Do your part by Adopting A Stormdrain in your neighborhood . . . learn more about it HERE.
HRWC recently completed work with local government partners in Washtenaw County to better understand how to use and plan for Green Infrastructure to capture and treat stormwater. Green Infrastructure (GI) is the collective natural areas (like woods, wetlands, and even gardens) in our watershed that provide ecological benefits to the river. This is in contrast to the gray infrastructure (like roads and pipes) that is traditionally used in municipal development. Funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the project focused on the ability of GI to capture and treat stormwater runoff.
At the beginning of the project, HRWC staff conducted interviews and workshops to gather information about how local communities were using GI. Over the course of two years HRWC produced the products below to help municipalities utilize GI practices to reduce stormwater costs and improve the quality and volume of stormwater discharge to our natural water resources:
- “Barriers to Green Infrastructure” report – details key barriers that are limiting the use of Green Infrastructure and ways to overcome them;
- Growing Green Infrastructure Forums – summary and presentations from three educational and planning forums;
- Green Infrastructure Project Inventory – a map of projects by type across the county;
- Green Infrastructure Opportunities Map – assesses available geographic information to highlight the most effective locations to use Green Infrastructure for stormwater treatment;
- Comparative Project Design – illustrates the use of conventional and Green Infrastructure designs for a road project along with projected costs and benefits;
- Green Infrastructure Communications Strategy – establishes a plan for educating and communicating the use and value of the GI approach to relevant stakeholders; and
- Web Resources – organized by topics such as economics and funding, and operations and maintenance.
A fact sheet was also produced that summarizes the efforts and outcomes. HRWC also participated in the Southeast Michigan Council of Government’s (SEMCOG) regional Green Infrastructure Vision development. Finally, HRWC will be presenting at the DEQ’s Green Infrastructure Conference on May 8 and 9 (www.michigan.gov/deq. Search “green infrastructure”). Join us!
After three years of study and gathering input from residents, businesses, forestry experts and stakeholder groups (including HRWC), the City of Ann Arbor is taking final public comment on their draft Urban and Community Forest Management Plan.
The Plan describes the status of the city’s “urban forest,” which includes all trees within the city, from the forests in Bird Hills and other parks, to the trees lining its streets and in back yards. One of the findings of the plan is that trees provide $4.6 million in benefits each year to the city. These benefits include reducing stormwater runoff , improving water and air quality, moderating summer temperatures, lowering utility costs and contributing to property values. HRWC was a member of the Advisory Committee that provided input on plan development and fully supports the goals of the plan.
The City is accepting public comment on the plan until March 28, 2014. Comments may be submitted via:
fax: 734.994.1744- attn: Kerry Gray
mail: 301 E. Huron St., PO Box 8647, Ann
Arbor, MI 48107- attn: Kerry Gray
Paper copies of the draft plan are available upon request. Please contact Kerry
Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734.794.6430 x
The sun is brighter, the birds are more active, and the temperatures are warming. I even got showered by puddle water as I walked home yesterday on N. Main St.!
The record snow fall will turn in to stormwater with the potential for flooding and back-ups. In the past 2 weeks there have been numerous news articles about flood warnings and predictions. I won’t look in to my crystal ball but I will pass along some solid suggestions from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on steps you can take to minimize flooding impacts.
Basically, as the weather warms, make sure you take these precautions at home:
- Clear stormdrains, catchbasins, or any kind of detention or yard drains you have from debris, ice, and litter;
- Check that any sumps or back-up generators are working;
- Clear gutters and downspouts of leaves, debris, and ice to expedite drainage
Yeah, you might be sore on Monday, but you’ll be drier in the weeks to come!
For more information about flooding risks, please visit the State’s website.
There has been a wealth of relevant news we have run across here at HRWC over the past couple of weeks. So much so, that for this edition of News to Us, I couldn’t pick just five. So, in addition to the five article summaries I usually post, I have a list of headlines that may be of interest to you as well. Read about the loss of several key stream gages in the watershed, the proposed Lyndon Township sand mine, Ann Arbor’s new Green Streets policy and several articles on the implications of the severe winter weather we are experiencing.
Deal sought to keep flood predictor intact The Huron Clinton Metropark Authority recently pulled funding for several stream gages in the Huron River and its tributaries. These gages provide river flow measurements used by municipalities and other groups to monitor water levels in the river. Hamburg Township is one community looking into how to keep these gages in operation. They provide critical early warning during flood conditions.
The Crushing Cost of Climate Change: Why We Must Rethink America’s Infrastructure Investments Our nation’s aging infrastructure crisis coupled with more extreme weather events are adding up to burdensome level of expenses shouldered by states and local municipalities. This article discusses action at the national level to support critical infrastructure improvements and rebuilding after disasters.
Ann Arbor adopts ‘green streets’ policy to address stormwater runoff, pollution Ann Arbor’s City Council voted to adopt a policy that requires road projects to address stormwater. Road projects will use engineering and vegetation to infiltrate at least the first inch of rain from storms improving water quality and stream flows, reducing the risk of flooding and minimizing wear and tear on the stormwater system.
CHELSEA: Public sounds off about Lyndon Township sand mine proposal The public hearing pertaining to a proposed sand mine in Lyndon Township between the Pinckney and Waterloo Recreation Areas drew hundreds voicing opposition to the project including State Representative Gretchen Driskell. Concerns about water quality, groundwater wells, wildlife, traffic and noise were among those voiced at the public hearing. A second hearing is scheduled for March 13th and a petition is circulating for those who oppose the development.
Convicted sewage dumper loses another court challenge The conviction of a man charged with violating Michigan’s Natural Resources Protection Act, stands after a recent court challenge. Charges came from an incident where raw sewage was dumped into the Huron River for three days from a property owned by the defendant.
- Two Scio Properties Added to Greenbelt
- Brutal winter costly for Road Commission
- Spring flooding forecast for the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas: See where major flooding could be a problem
- News Briefs: Sewage overflows from manhole at Genoa condos
Final results of a 1.5 year study of sediment transport in Millers Creek within the City of Ann Arbor were recently released at a public meeting on February 5. The city contracted with Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. to conduct the study following a series of flooding events near the mouth of the creek. These floods were due to a new course the creek was taking following sediment build-up in its floodway. The study estimated that 47 tons of sediment were deposited in Ruthven Nature Area over a five-year period.
The study recommends a range of small and large projects to reduce future accumulation or sediment transport to the Huron River. Recommendations run from simple annual maintenance activities priced at $2-3,000 per year, but yielding little sediment removal, to the $1.5 million stream restoration design HRWC helped develop for the former Pfizer property (now owned by the University of Michigan). Recommended projects include a sediment trap and removal approach, as well as channel modification (and restoration) to reduce sediment loading at the source. Some recommendations can be undertaken directly by the City of Ann Arbor alone, while others require participation from Ann Arbor Public Schools or the University of Michigan. All recommended projects would further benefit the Huron River by reducing sediment and nutrient loading from Millers Creek.
City staff will share the study with the city council and submit select recommendations for stormwater funding. Take a look for yourself at the project website.
Ahh, such a great evening. Snow drifts past your window as the fireplace roars. Zeus is curled up at your feet, and your Tetris crown sits atop your head. And then you hear the whining. “Oh jeez, Zeus needs to go for a walk again. How am I supposed to properly reign as King Tetris when my dog constantly keeps me from playing?”
You look out the window and groan at the sight of piles of snow on your sidewalk. “Guess I’ll go get the shovel. Some salt would be good too.” You’re about to grab the bag, but something stops you. You see a hairy paw blocking the bag opening. Zeus is in your way.
Now why would your dog keep you from applying road salt to your sidewalk? So he can fulfill his dream of becoming an H2O hero, of course! Road and sidewalk salt has a huge impact on our waterways. Melting snow carries all of that salt into our lakes, rivers and streams. A mere five pounds of salt can easily pollute 1,000 gallons of water.
Help protect our environment and drinking water! By shoveling frequently and using more environmentally friendly de-icers sparingly, you can help save our river.
Be sure to spend 15 minutes watching “Improved Winter Maintenance: Good Choices for Clean Water,” a video produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization in 2011. You’ll learn the best tools for keeping driveways and sidewalks safe this winter, what deicers work under different winter conditions and whether you should use them at all, the impacts of sand and deicers to our lakes, streams and groundwater, and how you can protect your pets from salt of course. Complete with comments from the sweetest Russian grandmother ever now living in Minnesota (she obviously knows her snow), the video highlights tools for snow removal you might not have considered and tips for how many pounds per square feet to apply if you do choose salt.
For more information you can visit HRWC’s Use Less Salt page.
In case you need more evidence that storm drains really do connect directly to streams and rivers, spend the next minute watching a young man fishing in his neighborhood storm drain. The video, and others like it, are courtesy of Kyle Naegeli of Texas via his YouTube channel. Tips for protecting water quality in curb and gutter areas include capturing rain water at home and limiting salt use on sidewalks and driveways. Check out more tips on our website under Take Action.