SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – A Lawrence Technological University professor is working with government officials to make stormwater management systems greener and more sustainable.
The way LTU Professor Donald Carpenter explains it, “green infrastructure” is using nature to manage rainfall instead of traditional “gray infrastructure” – concrete and pipes.
Under a $120,000 grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Carpenter is working with the Great Lakes Commission on a “Great Lakes Stormwater Technology Transfer” project. An advisory group comprised of stormwater and green infrastructure experts met for the first time Thursday, Sept. 29 in Ann Arbor to launch the effort.
The aim of the project is to spread stormwater management best practices and technologies across all governments in the Great Lakes basin, with emphasis on financially struggling, small, or rural jurisdictions that may face barriers to implementing those technologies.
A sister project of the Great Lakes Commission, the Green Infrastructure Champions Pilot Program, also supported by the Erb Family Foundation, will create a mentoring network of “green infrastructure champions” and emerging communities across the Great Lakes. The two efforts will work in tandem to reduce physical and institutional barriers to a greener approach to stormwater management.
Carpenter’s green infrastructure vision uses natural stormwater runoff treatment technologies like “bioswales” – essentially, man-made wetlands – green roofs, permeable pavements, and more, to reduce the amount of runoff going to storm sewer systems.
Green infrastructure is also a way to make existing storm sewer systems stretch farther in an era of heavier rainfall events brought on by climate change.
“We’ve fractured the water cycle with our pavement and our heavily engineered water systems,” said Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes and chair of the Great Lakes Commission. Through both projects, he said, “We’ll be accelerating technologies and practices that re-create what nature does – slowly filter the bad stuff out of water that’s going to go into the Great Lakes, rivers and streams, while also helping to prevent flooding and reduce risks to property.”
Added Carpenter: "We need to be smarter about how we manage water, and the Tech Transfer Collaborative aims to do just that. Lawrence Tech and our partners at the Great Lakes Commission will work on technologies and techniques that will lead to cleaner water in our streams, our rivers, and the Great Lakes."
The team plans on presenting the technology transfer plan at the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Green Infrastructure Conference, to be held May 31-June 2, 2017 at Cobo Center in Detroit. The conference will draw up to 1,000 engineers, landscape architects, water quality professionals, government officials, developers, planners, academics, and nonprofit organization executives to focus on green infrastructure in the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Commission, www.glc.org, is an interstate agency established in 1955 to promote conservation and responsible development of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin. The states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin appoint members to the commission, who set goals and policies for its staff. The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec are associate members.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.