Huron-Clinton Metroparks work to expand green infrastructure to prevent flooding
The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system wants to expand the ability to manage stormwater runoff that causes problems for some of the communities the parks serve.
The Metroparks are like green jewels on the necklaces of the Huron and Clinton rivers: 25,000 acres across five counties. The park system is ideal for helping to manage stormwater that could flood neighborhoods and cities near the rivers or their tributaries.
Areas that once rarely or never flooded are now seeing flooded basements and streets because of the intense rainstorms caused by climate change.
The park system is working to change the landscape on parkland to slow stormwater. In some cases, what were once manicured lawns at the parks are now allowed to grow, capturing stormwater to give it time to soak into the ground.
“Every additional drop of water that is managed has an impact both on quality of life and on the economy,” said Amy McMillan, director of the Metroparks.
It’s part of a climate action plan that calls for expanding green infrastructure.
McMillan said a survey of people who use the parks showed not only a willingness for the Metroparks system to do that, but enthusiastic support. The comments showed people understood the need.
A partnership with Wyandot of Anderdon Nation is restoring wetlands and planting native plants in an effort funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Private grants from foundations are also supporting the changes
“We’re looking for opportunities to maybe acquire some additional property, whether it is directly adjacent to our parks, whether it is in local communities that (have) a high potential to manage stormwater and reduce flooding,” McMillan said, noting that Wayne County is showing some support for such action.
The Metroparks also established a Stormwater Advisory Board to improve the park system's stormwater management plan. It includes people and organizations from across the five county area which includes Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties.
A few years ago, a study by the Trust for Public Land found that the stormwater retention and management done by the park system had a value of more than $30 million each year to the communities. It also noted it reduced pollution control costs by $2.25 million because rushing stormwater can wash oil and silt from roads and parking lots as well as other nasty things into storm sewers.