This grassy area in the parking lot of the Macomb Township Senior Center is one of three sites that are under consideration for the installation of a rain garden.

This grassy area in the parking lot of the Macomb Township Senior Center is one of three sites that are under consideration for the installation of a rain garden.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Board hears presentation on green infrastructure for Macomb Township

Plan outlined to reduce water runoff

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 8, 2019


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The mission of the Clinton River Watershed Council, or CRWC, is to protect, enhance and celebrate the Clinton River, its watershed and Lake St. Clair.

One way of doing that is through the WaterTowns initiative, which works to develop strong connections to the community, its surroundings, the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

A final presentation was made at the Dec. 19 Macomb Township Board of Trustees meeting by Dr. Donald Carpenter, vice president of Drummond Carpenter, a company that specializes in environmental and water resources, technical services, and applied research.

The purpose of the presentation was to hear from Carpenter about green infrastructure plans and cost estimates for three locations in Macomb Township.   

“There’s a lot of flooding in the township,” Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn said. “We have two branches of the Clinton River running through the northeast quadrant, so there are a lot of floodplains.”

The WaterTowns initiative is funded by the Erb Family Foundation and, through grant money, the CRWC has connected with 21 communities considered a WaterTown. A $5,000 mini-grant can be used as a match to help communities implement some of these strategies.

“Green infrastructure is using Mother Nature to capture and treat stormwater so it’s cleaner before it gets to the Clinton River,” Carpenter said in his opening remarks. “It’s about a healthier environment. So why green infrastructure?”

His answer to that was good placemaking.

“It’s about creating good places to visit, learn and appreciate the environment,” he said. “It helps alleviate flooding. We have a lot of issues with flooding and this project is all about retrofits. This is the fifth year of the program.”

In May, introductory meetings were held with Macomb Township about the program. Also in 2018, the sites were visited and sketches were drawn up.

Carpenter reiterated that the project is funded by the Erb Family Foundation at no cost to the community and that the cost analysis assumes primary contract labor.

“We don’t want to assume your community has the capacity to do this work yourself,” he said. “If you had to pay for it, this is what it would cost you. These are high-end estimates.”

Statistics provided by Carpenter include runoff reductions from parking lots and roads. The three sites that were visited were the Macomb Township Recreation Center at 20699 Macomb Drive, the Macomb Township Senior Center at 51210 Alma Drive, and the Macomb Township Fire Station No. 2 at 17800 21 Mile Road.

For the senior center, Carpenter recommend several rain gardens to capture water flowing off from the parking lot. The proposed plan at the senior center would cost $26,800 and reduce rain runoff by 32 percent.

A rain garden contains shrubs, perennials and flowers planted in a small depression, which is generally formed on a natural slope. It is designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff.

At the fire station, rain gardens and a permeable paver system were recommended. The permeable paver system would capture and allow water to flow underground. The proposed cost is $9,900.

The proposed plan at the recreation center calls for two rain gardens, two sections of permeable pavers and a bioretention area.

Carpenter calculated that all of the proposed improvements would capture about 150,000 gallons of water.

“That is every time it rains two inches or less,” Carpenter said. “Ninety-five percent of rainfall would be treated.”

The total cost is about $340,000, or $2.25 per gallon of water.

Assistance is offered for communities who are looking to implement the project, such as the $5,000 mini-grant from CRWC.

Other communities the WaterTowns program has worked with are Clarkston, Clinton Township, Rochester Hills and Sterling Heights.

“Anything that helps out the Clinton River is worthy of attention, especially if you can get a matching grant for it,” Dunn said.

The WaterTowns program facilitates these efforts to develop a vision map for the entire watershed, highlighting opportunities to maximize the potential of water resources to offer a better quality of life and sense of place. Initiatives include providing conceptual green infrastructure plans for areas in close proximity to the Clinton River or its tributaries.