This image shows potential green infrastructure design by Drummond Carpenter for St. Clair Shores as part of the Clinton River Watershed Council WaterTowns project.

This image shows potential green infrastructure design by Drummond Carpenter for St. Clair Shores as part of the Clinton River Watershed Council WaterTowns project.

Image provided by Assistant City Manager Bill Gambill


Designs show eco-friendly ways to capture storm runoff

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 6, 2017

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A vision for a more environmentally friendly downtown was presented to City Council in November in conjunction with a program through the Clinton River Watershed Council, or CRWC.

Assistant City Manager Bill Gambill said that St. Clair Shores was one of three communities selected to participate in the WaterTowns project put forth by the CRWC, along with Huntington Woods and New Baltimore. He said that because of the large amount of asphalt in the area, they selected the Nine Mile Road and Greater Mack Avenue area as the location for the design project.

Amanda Oparka, of the CRWC, said that the WaterTowns program began in 2013 to create conceptual site plans and artistic renderings of green infrastructure that communities could use to capture and treat stormwater runoff. 

Donald Carpenter, of Drummond Carpenter Engineering and Research, said his company works with the CRWC on the project to provide all designs free to the communities. The work is paid for with a grant from the Erb Family Foundation, and the city can use the designs as a starting place for future projects or to apply for grants to pay for the projects.

“You’re under no obligation” to move forward with the designs, he said. They are “our best conceptual estimates of what would be good for the area … using Mother Nature to capture and treat stormwater so it doesn’t flow into the Clinton River or Lake St. Clair in a polluted fashion.”

The designs were created over the past six months, Carpenter said, to try to capture stormwater runoff in the area.

“Currently, there’s no stormwater detention in that area,” he said. 

In the area of Nine Mile and Greater Mack, he said, there’s an opportunity for tree box filters, permeable pavement and bioretention gardens using native plants to capture the water. If all the proposed improvements were implemented, he said, the area would retain 80,000 gallons of stormwater during a heavy rain event. The upgrades would cost about $257,300 to construct. 

Oparka said that participation in the WaterTowns project entitles the city to a $5,000 mini-grant from the CRWC that requires a 1-to-1 match from the city, either in cash or in kind. She said the CRWC would also help with maintenance the first few cycles.

City Council members asked why they hadn’t heard about the program during the time that Drummond Carpenter had been working on the designs. Other members said that the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee should have been brought on board with the project, as well.

“We felt it was premature to come back ... without having any information,” City Manager Michael Smith said. “Until we had a feasibility of what was actually going there, how it was going to work.”

Council voted unanimously to participate in the WaterTowns project.

Smith said that a plan of what to do with the design proposals could come back to City Council in the spring.