Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2011 - (Page 31)

Stormwater Solution Rain gardens provide the city of Grayling, Mich., with a solution to runoff issues, helping restore the Au Sable River. BY PAUL SEEGERT, USDA-FSA SOURCE WATER SPECIALIST THERE IS A great success story being written on the banks of the Au Sable River in Grayling, Mich. The Grayling Stormwater Project is a significant step forward for the Au Sable River and for environmental progress in the state. Not only has it provided important protections for the state’s most storied trout stream, but it also is a blueprint for future efforts showing the value of government, industry and the sporting public working together for a common cause. The city of Grayling, population 1,952, is located in the northern portion of lower Michigan. The city is taking steps to reduce its effects on the Au Sable River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River that flows directly through the main business district of the town. Like many of the high-quality rivers in northern Michigan, the Au Sable is almost entirely fed by groundwater, which is a big part of the reason why it runs so clear and cool, with very stable flows all year long. Groundwater-fed streams like the Au Sable are especially susceptible to impacts from stormwater runoff — impacts that lead to water quality problems such as fluctuating water flows, increased water temperature, turbid water and downstream erosion. Historically, in Grayling and most other cities, the stormwater approach has been to dispose of runoff in the quickest manner possible, with little regard for its subsequent impact on natural resources. Where natural vegetation and soils once intercepted runoff, impervious surfaces (such as roads, parking lots and buildings) now send runoff directly to the river. Stormwater runoff carrying sediment, oils, greases, trash and other hazardous material previously discharged from city streets and parking lots directly into the Au Sable River. Because of Grayling’s position near the headwaters of the river, this runoff had the potential to affect the river along its entire length, ultimately reaching Lake Huron. To restore the water quality of the Au Sable downstream from Grayling, a partnership formed in 1999 to plan ways to help restore the area’s natural hydrology. By allowing rainfall to absorb into the ground where it falls, the sandy soils fi lter out pollutants and lower the temperature of the water before it eventually seeps out into the river. In addition, the deep roots of native plants bind pollutants, further cleaning the water before it reaches the river. With these principles in mind, the partnership formulated a project that would help disconnect the city streets from the traditional storm sewer system and move toward a more river-friendly system of groundwater infi ltration. Second Quarter 2011 • 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2011

Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2011
From the President
Reducing Energy Costs for Public Water Systems
Are You There Yet? Evaluating Your Portfolio
Where the Dollars Are: The Low Hanging Fruit in Money and Energy Savings
Information Technology and Water Systems
Stormwater Solution
The Next Workforce
Water University Graduates
The Voice of Rural Water: Rural Water Rally 2011
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2011