Thursday, November 6, 2014

Making a Joke of Green Infrastructure

A grandfather, wishing to teach his grandchildren how some governments work, began, “Once upon a time, the mayor of a once grand city decided that planting lots of trees throughout the city would improve the environment in several ways.”


The grandfather went on, “When the mayor was driving to work one morning, he noticed a city worker digging a row of holes down the side of the road.  But as soon as the holes were dug, another worker came over and filled them up again. The mayor stopped to investigate.  When he asked what was going on, a workman responded, ‘We’re usually a three man crew, but the one who plants the trees didn't show up this morning.’ ”


Seriously, we in southeastern Michigan need to establish a new benchmark for planting trees. Consider New York City.  In November 2013, the mayor planted the 800,000th tree in a project called MillionTreesNYC “ … which began in 2007 with the goal of reaching one million trees planted by 2017. The initiative is now expected to reach one million trees by 2015, two years ahead of schedule.”


Over the last several years, Detroit, through its water and sewer department (DWSD), a regional planning agency (SEMCOG) and a contractor, has tried to plant about 4,000 trees per year, purportedly to help offset combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that run in the billions of gallons, polluting the Detroit River and Lake Erie.


Anybody want to guess how many gallons 4,000 trees absorb in a year?  (Hint: It’s not in the billions of gallons.)  


Granted, Detroit will never be able to match New York City in tree planting, but c’mon, is 4,000 per year the best we can do?

Let’s hope our new regional water authority (GLWA) and state officials have something better in mind.

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