Organized by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner (OCWRC), the 2014 Regional Stormwater Summit was held on October 3, 2014 at Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield, Michigan.
This was a superb production. The dominant themes were mitigating stormwater runoff and controlling combined sewer overflows (CSOs) by means of green infrastructure. Moderators were OCWRC Jim Nash and LTU’s Dr. Don Carpenter.
Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, spoke about how his region overcame years of crippling water wars. Milwaukee undertook long range, regional research and planning. Management of stormwater runoff in metropolitan Milwaukee relies heavily on green infrastructure.
Michigan Governor Snyder’s Senior Policy Officer, Valerie Brader, indicated that the Governor favors local stormwater utilities and a regional approach to stormwater projects. She said the Governor supports green infrastructure so long as it is cost efficient.
Joel Brammeier of the Alliance for the Great Lakes discussed nutrient loading in Lake Erie, possible outcomes of the drinking water crisis in Toledo this past summer, EPA’s latest Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) action plan and building the cost of clean water into Big Ag’s plans to increase corn production in farmland adjacent to the Great Lakes.
Dr. Carpenter described the WaterTowns project of the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) whereby riverside communities can exploit aesthetic, economic and recreational opportunities related to the water.
A panel consisting of Paul Kovalcik, Brent Brown and Ralph Reznick explained the intricacies of urban stream restoration, including “sunshining,” dam removal and wildlife habitat. Kovalcik is a watershed specialist from northeast Ohio. Brown is an engineer and hydrologist from Milwaukee. Reznick is an engineer and stream specialist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Tree canopy analysis and the value of trees in stormwater control were topics addressed by William Ayersman, representing the Davey Resource Group.
Michael Pennington, a wetland mitigation specialist for MDEQ, outlined Michigan’s Wetlands Special Banking Fund, through which real estate developers can offset their destruction of wetlands by contributing in advance to the expansion of vast, contiguous, state-protected tracts of wetlands. [See also Nathan Inks, a Wayne State law student, in Michigan Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 4, Summer 2014, Issue 96.]
An officer of the Erb Family Foundation, Jodee Raines, described new ways foundations can collaborate on green infrastructure projects.
Tips for homeowners who want to participate in sustainable water resource practices were discussed by Michele Arquette-Palermo, CRWC’s Program Director.
A video recording of the event is expected to be posted on OCWRC’s website and YouTube.