Posts Tagged ‘Stormwater’

Ann Arbor Unveils Plan for its Urban Forest

A2ForestAfter 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:

email:  kgray@a2gov.org
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 kgray@a2gov.org or 734.794.6430 x

Kris Olsson

Kris directs the Bioreserve Project, which aims to identify and protect the watershed's most ecologically important remaining natural areas, and works with local communities in the Portage Creek watershed to keep the creek healthy. Kris enjoys being outdoors and cuddling on the couch with her three dogs (and her two daughters, oh yeah, and husband too!)

Latest posts by Kris Olsson (see all)

The Big Melt

Soon, your stormdrain could look like this!

Soon, your stormdrain could look like this!

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:

  1. Clear stormdrains, catchbasins, or any kind of detention or yard drains you have from debris, ice, and litter;
  2. Check that any sumps or back-up generators are working;
  3. 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.

News to Us

Sign of Spring? Credit: John Lloyd

Sign of Spring? Credit: John Lloyd

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.


Rebecca Esselman

Rebecca keeps one eye on the river and the other on climate.She is a bit of a news buff too, bringing you News to Us twice a month.When not at the office you can find her and her family enjoying Hudson Mills and Mill Creek Park.

Latest posts by Rebecca Esselman (see all)

Study Recommends More Work in Millers Creek

Focus area of impacts from Millers Creek sediment accumulation

Focus area of impacts from Millers Creek sediment accumulation. Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor.

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.

Ric Lawson

Ric works on stormwater management and policy and sends volunteers out to measure the pulse of the river and help with watershed monitoring and studies. Officially, he is a Watershed Planner. Unofficially, he gets wet trying to catch fish and splashing around with his wife and kids at various undisclosed river locations.

Latest posts by Ric Lawson (see all)

Salt Less

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.

Use Less Salt, protect the river and your pet!

Zeus. Photo Credit: Merrit Palm Keffer.

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.

Do You Need a Fishing License for That?

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.

Still from Kyle Naegeli’s fishing video


New Green Infrastructure Resources

Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

Rain garden outside Ann Arbor Municipal Center. Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

HRWC gathers county governments to forge ahead with innovative stormwater solutions, compiles most helpful resources

This past summer has seen some major milestones in our project on green infrastructure (GI). For nearly two years we have been clarifying the way forward for Washtenaw County with regard to the implementation of green infrastructure stormwater features — rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, pervious pavement, etc. We worked with agencies and organizations throughout the county to identify the barriers to green infrastructure, strategies for overcoming those barriers, and tools and resources for taking the next steps.

Three “Growing Green Infrastructure Forums” were held this summer on the topics of overcoming the barriers, funding green infrastructure, and operation and maintenance of green infrastructure features. Attendees ranged from state to local entities: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Washtenaw County Water Resource Commissioner and Road Commission, the City of Ann Arbor, the Village of Dexter, Pittsfield Township and other municipalities were involved. Stormwater directors from both Grand Rapids and Toledo talked to participants about their GI programs. Three local consultants with green infrastructure experience offered insight and assistance on topics small and large.

Throughout the forums, HRWC researched and highlighted a dozen of the most current and useful resources available online, such as Portland, Oregon’s Field Guide to Maintaining Rain Gardens, Swales, and Stormwater Planters. These resources have now been gathered together on our new Green Infrastructure Resources page under three categories: economics and funding, policies and permitting, and operations and maintenance. Each resource is presented with a description of the key findings or tools found within the resource and a link for easy access. The pages are intended for state or local policymakers, members of city councils or planning boards, municipal staff (including practical manuals and checklists for maintenance departments), developers, and even homeowners.

This green infrastructure project is wrapping up this fall with the release of additional locally-relevant tools and a major alternative proposal for a redevelopment project in Washtenaw County. However, this experience has firmly rooted HRWC’s belief that treating and infiltrating water on-site as the default stormwater management practice is an important step toward protecting the economic and environmental vitality of Washtenaw County and the broader watershed.

2014 Watershed Community Calendar

Get your hero on!

The communities of the Huron River watershed have come together to produce another spectacular calendar. Chock full of stunning Huron River photography, stormwater pollution2014 Watershed Community Calendar prevention tips and local resources, this year’s version features 15 of your neighbors who are doing their part to protect water quality in their everyday actions!

Your mission if you choose to accept it is to become an H2O Hero yourself. Pick a sidekick, choose your color, select hero gear and decide which “bad guys” you will fight. You can get your hero on in seven easy steps — check the hero handbook that starts on page 28 of the calendar. Once you’ve done it, “like” HRWC on Facebook and update us with your hero name (clever or not). We’ll enter you to win one of 50 H2O Hero t-shirts that we’ll give away in January.

How to get your calendar.

By mail.  City of Ann Arbor, City of Brighton and Village of Dexter are direct-mailing to most households in their communities the week of November 4th.

In person.  Calendars will be at these customer service counters:2014CalendarJanuaryPhoto2014-CalendarJanuaryTip
-Livingston County Drain Commission and Road Commission
-Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and Road Commission
-City of Ypsilanti
-Village of Pinckney
-Green Oak Charter Township
-Marion Township
-Pittsfield Charter Township
-Charter Township of Ypsilanti

From HRWC. Contact Pam Labadie at plabadie@hrwc.org or (734)769-5123 x 602. We can mail a calendar to you for $5 or you can pick one up for free at HRWC.

About the Calendar.

The 2014 Watershed Community Calendar is a collaborative effort to educate residents about the importance of water stewardship and nonpoint source pollution prevention. The communities listed above believe there are substantial benefits that can be derived by joining together and cooperatively managing the rivers, lakes, and streams within the watershed and in providing mutual assistance in meeting state water discharge permit requirements. HRWC would like to thank them for their continued support of the calendar program.

News to Us


**Note: If you are looking for the October 9th edition of News to Us please click here.  An incorrect link was circulated in our recent email.**

Kayakers enjoy the Huron at Gallup Park

Kayakers enjoy the Huron at Gallup Park

This edition of News to Us describes new projects dedicated to protecting the Huron River and other freshwater resources throughout the state. Read about the increasing popularity of the Huron as well as a recent bird sighting.

European frog-bit: the next invasive plant to watch – Fast moving aquatic invasive that colonizes marshes, ditches and swamps as well as shorelines of lakes and rivers discovered near Alpena.

Helping Michigan cities plan for a warmer future – A Michigan Radio interview with Beth Gibbons, project manager for the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C) on helping cities like Flint, Michigan plan for climate change adaptation.

Volunteer! It May Be Good For Your Health – Researchers find a connection between volunteering, longevity and mental well-being. Volunteer with HRWC for the upcoming October 12 River Roundup!

Jackson officials accept court’s decision nullifying stormwater fee; services such as leaf pickup eliminated — The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the city’s stormwater fee an unconstitutional tax that violates the Headlee Amendment.  Jackson declines to appeal the decision.

Ann Arbor officials credit large increase in river trips to popularity of Argo Cascades – Liveries along the Huron reported record numbers of river trips this summer, including HRWC’s neighbors at the Argo Canoe Livery. The recently installed Cascades are said to be the reason. Get out on the river before the summer ends. Register here for HRWC’s last paddle trip, September 21.

Washtenaw County to back $3.33M in bonds for flood control in Ann Arbor — The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners recently approved support for five exciting projects within Ann Arbor and the Allen Creek watershed that will help to mitigate flooding and reduce E. coli and phosphorus levels in the Huron. Projects range from installing new stormwater control measures in drains to planting trees!

Sewer overflows declining, but heavy rains still push sewage into streams – Michigan’s sewer systems seem to be out of sight and out of mind — until they break. Recent reports find that current systems will take billions of dollars to upgrade and fix. Many cities and counties are trying to adapt these systems to a changing climate, with more intense rainfall that stresses stormwater plants. Fortunately, new legislation is funding grants to be used by cities throughout the state to alleviate the problem.

Bird battle stuns shutterbug — A great blue heron recently got a little too close to a mother osprey and her nest. Mama osprey went above and beyond the call of duty to teach heron a lesson.

The Fish are Jumpin’!

Participants in the 2013 Huron River Single Fly Tournament

Participants in the 2013 Huron River Single Fly Tournament

For the first time in the three-year run of the event, I was finally confident enough to give the Huron River Single-Fly Tournament a try — and I am so glad that I did! It was great to meet the 24 passionate anglers and hear how much they knew about the river, the fish, their food and habitat. Many told me how happy they were to have a quality river with lots of healthy fish running through a dynamic, urban population center.

Proceeds from the entrance fees and donations went to our “River Up!” initiative. The tournament raised over $3,000 for the program, as all fees and donations were matched by the Erb Foundation. That money will be used in the program to clean up areas along the river, improve access, and transform the Huron River corridor into a recreation destination.

Mike Schultz, partners and staff at Schultz Outfitters did a great job organizing the event and making sure everyone had a fun and safe time. He and his crew provide equipment and advice to make it easy for noobs like me.

As all the teams went to to their favorite spots, I was impressed by the number and variety of good fishing locations offered to me and my partner, Sean (pictured below at an undisclosed location). We chose a busy section at Island Park in Ann Arbor to start, where we met dozens of paddlers and tubers all interested in what we were catching (quite a few little small-mouth bass, as it turned out). It was great to see such a variety of activities taking place on our river.

Participant Sean Hickey in the 2013 Huron River Single Fly Tournament

Participant Sean Hickey in the 2013 Huron River Single Fly Tournament

As we moved to a different site, the traffic subsided and I was reminded about the power the river possesses. The ample rain we’ve had has kept river flows up, which has made for interesting paddling and fishing conditions. While it had not rained much over the previous week, the river flow was still up, thanks to the abundant natural land cover that keeps the groundwater flow slow and strong. We noticed that some earlier canoeists may not have been ready for these conditions earlier in the season.

This canoe wreckage offers a warning to unprepared paddlers about the power of the river.

This canoe wreckage offers a warning to unprepared paddlers about the power of the river.

While I enjoyed my time casting into spots that looked like good hiding places for big fish, as the river gently, but noticeably embraced me, I was reminded of the connection to the natural world that inspired me to become a watershed planner in the first place. Whether it is fishing, paddling, rowing, swimming, or just taking a stroll along its banks, I encourage you all to get out and enjoy this wonderful resource we have in our back yards. Then come back and do what you can to make it even better.

To see who won the Single Fly Tournament and plan for your participation next year, visit the tournament webpage.

Donate to HRWC
State of the Huron Conference
Summer Recreation 2014
Huron River Water Trail
Portage Creek Project
Save Water Save Energy
Follow Us!
rss .FaceBook-Logo.twitter-logo