One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways for us to take care of the Great Lakes is to build Green Infrastructure. This approach to land management uses a blend of engineering technologies, landscape architecture and ecosystem management to prevent and treat pollution before it enters the Great Lakes.
The Green Infrastructure approach recognizes the benefits of natural areas integrated into the built environment, these include:
- reduction of stormwater runoff and associated pollutants
- better groundwater recharge
- increased wildlife habitat
- reduced maintenance costs
- cooler urban air temperatures
- increased carbon sequestration
- improved air quality
- greater access to nature recreation and education
- higher land values
One of the ways to create Green Infrastructure is to follow Low Impact Development (LID) practices. Low Impact Development uses the basic principle that is modeled after nature: manage rainfall where it lands (SEMCOG LID Manual, 2009). It is land use/development that helps precipitation infiltrate the ground thereby preventing storm water run-off. Find out more about Low Impact Development projects in Southeast Michigan with this interactive map.
Examples of Green Infrastructure in Metro Detroit, MI
Rain gardens and bioswales are landscaping features designed to
collect stormwater runoff from roofs, driveways, or other impervious
Bioswale in parking lot - Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve, Southfield, MI
Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the
rainwater collects in a swale or garden where it is naturally filtered by
plants and soil. Rain gardens and bioswales can cut down on the
amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams.
Bioswales are not vegetated on the bottom and tend to be deeper
basins where soil and rock filter the water, while rain gardens tend to be shallow and completely vegetated.
Porous asphalt allows water to soak through the spaces in-between the aggregates. Often there is a stormwater capture system beneath the asphalt lot to conduct water away to a bioswale, which then filters pollutants. In large parking areas, these systems are engineered to handle large volumes of stormwater.
Grow Zone at Shiawassee Park in Farmington, MI
A grow zone is an upland or riverside native planting installed to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.
A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with plants growing in a thin layer of soil or artifical medium, below the planted layer is a waterproof membrane.
See the world’s largest living roof at the Ford Rouge Factory Tour!