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More green infrastructure coming to Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood

A rendering of a sample bioretention garden.
A rendering of a sample bioretention garden.

With Detroit being hit by more frequent and intense rainfall events, the city is upping its investment in green infrastructure projects.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will add 24 new bioretention gardens in the Brightmoor neighborhood on the city’s west side. The project will cover about 50 acres of what is currently mostly vacant lots owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, as well as a portion of the streetscape.

Bioretention gardens use permeable soils and other landscaping techniques to absorb excess rainfall that can otherwise overload the combined sewer system. That can lead to flooding and basement backups, similar to what happened during an unprecedented rainstorm in June 2021.

DWSD’s Lisa Wallick said this new project should help remove and treat about nine million gallons of stormwater every year, which “will help to reduce the amount of untreated combined sewage from being discharged to Rouge River.”

The project will include “hundreds of trees and shrubs, as well as some community amenities to benefit the neighborhood,” Wallick added.

Wallick said DWSD is doing community outreach in Brightmoor and nearby Minock Park alongside the project, but residents have already signed off on the overall concept. The project is currently in the design phase, and construction is expected to finish sometime next year.

Wallick said there are already 19 green water infrastructure in place across the city, which collectively treat and remove about 53 million gallons of stormwater annually. The plan is to utilize more of the city’s vacant properties to continue building up that infrastructure.

“We are pleased to be part of DWSD’s ongoing effort to improve stormwater management across the city. Today, we’re transferring 92 parcels, but DWSD has also asked us to hold hundreds of additional properties for future projects, ensuring they have access to the best possible infrastructure opportunities,” Land Bank CEO Tammy Daniels said in a statement. “The four new projects in Brightmoor demonstrate how creativity and collaboration can return vacant DLBA lots to productive use, adding beauty and benefits for neighbors.”

The Fenkell Stormwater Project is funded by four grants totaling $1.6 million, as well as $1.8 million in DWSD capital improvement funds.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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