HRWC has been working on a unique project implementing low impact development techniques such as rain gardens and native plantings, rain barrels, and porous pavement to help capture rain water in an urban area and slow its flow through neighborhood storm drains into the local creek. Known as the Millers Creek Rainwater Project, the work is targeted to a small residential neighborhood of 600 single family homes in the northeast corner of the City of Ann Arbor.

The Prairie Briarcliff community rain garden in Ann Arbor.
The Prairie Briarcliff Community Rain Garden in Ann Arbor, four months after planting.

Over the past year we have completed several large components of the project and this summer we are excited to be testing the effectiveness of our work. 

In 2009 we:

  • Created a 5,000 square foot community rain garden by removing a large unused patch of dead-end road. 20 neighborhood residents helped us put in 2,000 native plants, trees and shrubs. This garden now captures rainwater from 41,000 square feet of neighborhood.
  • Planted a 1400 square foot rain garden at Thurston Elementary School that catches runoff from the school’s rooftop. Several neighborhood residents and three third-grade classes from Thurston pitched in.
  • Retrofitted a non-working rain water detention pond at the Plymouth Orchard Office Building. We modified the concrete outlet structure so that it would work better and planted the pond’s margin with native plants to increase water uptake.

This spring and summer  HRWC and its volunteers are doing  intensive monitoring downstream of the project area to measure (a) the shape of the channel, (b) the numbers and kinds of insects in the creek, and (c) the water’s flow. A final report will be available in August and there will be a neighbors meeting this fall to share results.

In the meantime, join us on June 23, 2010 at 7pm for a walking tour of the rain gardens. Experts will be on hand to talk about best practices and answer questions. Meet at Thurston Elementary School, 2300 Prairie, Ann Arbor.