Absolute Michigan's Michigan Blog
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Storm Water Gardens, great and small

Water Lily
Photo by oakwood.
The GLRC writes:
Cities around the country are trying to figure out how to encourage economic growth, and protect the environment at the same time. Stephanie Hemphill reports on one case where both could be winners:

Like a lot of cities, runoff from this city's streets - polluted with salt, oil, and fertilizer - flows into a waterway. In Duluth, Minnesota, the waterway is Lake Superior.

A local group wants to turn some vacant land near a popular downtown park into a storm water garden that would clean up runoff.

But city councilor Jim Stauber says by state law, the publicly-owned land must be used for economic development.
In Michigan, there are groups throughout the state offering information to residents about how storm water impacts their environment and what they can do to help. One such organization is Rain Gardens of West Michigan. They are
an environmental education program focused on stormwater education, and on the values of using rain gardens and native plants in the landscape to improve urban and suburban water quality.
The Times Herald of Port Huron recently published an article highlighting Kristen Jurs.
(S)he's growing the sedum plants on the roof of an entrance to her basement.

The bed of plants is known as a green roof - a patch of plants covering the roof of a structure to absorb rainwater, filter run-off and help control heating and cooling.
Jurs, storm-water coordinator at the St. Clair County Health Department, said she installed the roof in May 2005 as an example and to get people thinking differently.

"I wanted to show people it wasn't such a crazy idea," she said. "I decided to do a little pilot project here and show them it can work."

Jurs has done little to no maintenance on the roof - there's no watering or weed whacking necessary - and excess water is funneled through a pipe into a rain box, which is used to water bonsai trees in the yard.

"It's kind of a long road in Michigan (to get people interested)," Jurs said. "But it's happening."

Read or listen to STORM WATER GARDENS: GOOD FOR CITY GROWTH? on The Environment Report
Learn more about Rain Gardens of West Michigan
Read Municipality turns to green Ira Township installs unique natural roof by the Times Herald (Port Huron)

NOTE: The photo at right above is from the Absolute Michigan Pool on Flickr.

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