Lawrence Tech professor provides expertise for $2 million stormwater project in Detroit

Release Date: April 16, 2014

Donald Carpenter

Donald Carpenter

Lawrence Technological University Professor Donald Carpenter will monitor the results of a recently announced $2 million project to reduce stormwater runoff in Detroit and eliminate some sewer overflows into the Detroit River.

The Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Project for Detroit’s near east side will deploy green infrastructure strategies to manage and retain stormwater in areas outlined by the Lower East Side Action Plan (LEAP) and RecoveryPark. The projects are located within the East Jefferson district of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) where there are on average nine combined sewer overflows into the Detroit River every year.

The federal United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is providing a $1 million grant for the stormwater abatement project, and the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the Kresge Foundation have put up the $1 million match required for the federal grant.

LTU will provide pre-construction and post-construction monitoring of runoff to the combined sewer system for the LEAP and RecoveryPark green infrastructure projects. Carpenter will be supported by a civil engineering graduate research assistant and an undergraduate project assistant.

Carpenter is director of Lawrence Tech’s Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute, which promotes positive environmental change in the Great Lakes Region through research, education, and practical application of low-impact development and stormwater management techniques. He has served as a technical advisor for community organizations in Detroit including RecoveryPark, West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, and Clean Water Action of Michigan.

“The opportunity to green the city of Detroit and subsequently improve water and air quality is exciting,” Carpenter said. “This project will demonstrate what can be done on a larger scale as the city reinvents itself.”

Carpenter also played a key role in bringing together the funding package for the project. As a leading proponent of stormwater management in the region, he has worked with many of the organizations that came together to make this project possible.

DWSD is the EPA grant recipient and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments will help facilitate project implementation. Other partners include the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the Warren/Connor Development Coalition, the Greening of Detroit and the Michigan Land Bank.

Detroit Future City (DFC) will provide strategic leadership to the infrastructure projects and will administer the Erb Family Foundation and Kresge Foundation matching grants with assistance from DEGC.

DFC Executive Director Kenneth Cockrel Jr. described the Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure project as “a model of community collaboration, innovation, and wise resource sharing.”

“The transformation of vacant land into productive blue and green infrastructure resources is a tool for neighborhood stabilization. It will also help reduce a financial burden on the City and provide improved environmental quality for Detroit and the Great Lakes region,” Cockrel said.

LEAP involves approximately 40 vacant lots that will be cleaned and greened utilizing the expertise of the Greening of Detroit.

Recovery Park is managing approximately 32 acres to reduce stormwater runoff through the use of green infrastructure techniques including bioswales and rain gardens. The runoff will then be conveyed to storage facilities for use as irrigation for the greenhouse farms during the RecoveryPark site development phase.

Lawrence Technological University,, 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 7 percent of universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area. Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.


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