What is DWSD's Green Infrastructure Plan?

On March 1, 2013, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued DWSD the NPDES permit (Permit No. MI0022802) that requires DWSD to develop and implement a Green Infrastructure Plan for 17 specific outfalls along the Rouge River. DWSD submitted an updated version of this Green Infrastructure Plan was to the MDEQ on August 1, 2014. The Green Infrastructure Plan is DWSD’s road map for implementing green infrastructure in the future.

The permit requires DWSD to invest $15 million in Green Infrastructure between 2013-2017 to reduce 2.8 million gallons (MG) of storm water flow (during the two-year design storm). The permit language identifies a number of specific green infrastructure project types, including downspout disconnections, demolition and removal of vacant structures, bioswales along roadways and parking lots, tree planting and other projects.


Where is Green Infrastructure Happening and How Is It Working?

DWSD has implemented a variety of Green Infrastructure projects in the Upper Rouge Tunnel area to help reduce the amount of storm water entering the combined sewer system.

This map shows the location of many of these projects:

Projects implemented to date include the following:

Tree Plantings. Since 2010, DWSD in conjunction with its partner, The Greening of Detroit, have planted over 4,000 trees in the Upper Rouge Tunnel area.

Demolition and Greening Vacant Properties. Between January 2014 and September 2015 there have been approximately 1,750 demolitions completed within the Upper Rouge Tunnel area through the Neighborhood Stabilization Area funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). DWSD also contracted with Greening of Detroit to restore ten (10) Michigan Land Bank vacant lots in the area of Cody Rouge. DWSD completed construction of four bioretention gardens on vacant lots in the Cody Rouge neighborhood in November 2015. The fact sheets below provide more detailed information on the process for transforming these lots into beautiful gardens that will soak up storm water and reduce the amount entering the combined sewer system.

Downspout Disconnections. Since 2011, DWSD in conjunction with its partner, The Greening of Detroit, has hosted nearly 64 workshops on “how to” disconnect and provided free materials (e.g., downspout elbow, extender, and plug) to nearly 440 participants.

Roadways and Parking Lots. DWSD is currently working with the Detroit Department of Public Works (DPW) on several green infrastructure projects that integrate with planned road resurfacing projects. DWSD and DPW hosted community meetings in January and February 2015 to talk to community residents about these proposed projects in their neighborhoods. Fact sheets and community meeting summaries provide more detailed information.

Municipal Properties. DWSD encourages the use of green infrastructure at municipal facilities. For example, the Detroit Department of Public Works is discussing options for incorporating green infrastructure at its Michigan Avenue facility.

Check back here for updates on DWSD’s green infrastructure projects as more information becomes available.

DWSD prepares annual progress reports to document Green Infrastructure Program progress for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and other interested organizations and residents. Reports documenting activities from 2010 to the present are available here.


How is Detroit Supporting Green Infrastructure Implementation on Private Parcels?

Ensuring effective and efficient implementation of the storm water management strategies in the Green Infrastructure Plan requires cooperation among city departments and a city code that supports green infrastructure. The City of Detroit recently reviewed the city’s municipal code to identify possible barriers to implementing green infrastructure throughout Detroit. The review revealed a number of areas within the code that could be revised to support, incentivize or require the implementation of green infrastructure for storm water management. DWSD and other city departments are working together to address the areas of the code that need improvement to support green infrastructure. This includes developing a new ordinance to require storm water management on developments after construction is complete, as well as revising the existing code.