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Abstract: Session A  9:20 am (Back to Session A)
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Stream Assessment and Stormwater Management in a Regional Park System

John Deslippe
OHM Advisors
Livonia, Michigan

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is a non-profit organization that manages 13 parks covering 24,000 acres in 5 counties in southeast Michigan.  The Huron and Clinton Rivers represent two of the three main watersheds in the Detroit region, and the Metroparks system is the single largest land owner on both streams –boasting hundreds of miles of riparian boundary.  Starting from rural headwaters north of metro-Detroit and flowing through urban-industrial population centers, these streams discharge into the Great Lakes system, which is source water for millions of people in several states and Canadian provinces. Excessive stormwater in these streams causes bank erosion and contributes to nutrient loading, which degrades riparian habitat, creates critical risk for the built environment, and eventually exacerbates toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.  These factors make the Metropark system an invaluable natural resource and an important stakeholder in assessment of streams and watershed planning for the entire region.

The Metroparks development of a Stormwater Management Plan for the entire park system focused on streambank and lakeshore condition assessments through innovative field investigation and data collection and recommendations for stabilization, restoration, and green infrastructure implementation, as well as modifications to recreational use and turf management.  A water quality monitoring initiative was also included in this effort- using a “smart kayak” outfitted with multiparameter probes, water quality was mapped in real time in areas of concern for illicit discharges.  Using State of Michigan standard operating procedures for bank erosion hazard indexing and cutting-edge data collection tools, over 100 miles of stream channel were evaluated.  Presence of woody debris, invasive species, and recreational impacts were also considered. Finally, recommendations and concepts were made for steam restoration, stabilization, recreational impact mitigation, improvements to stormwater systems, and green infrastructure implementation. Cost opinions and project prioritization were also developed as part of this assessment and planning process, an important aspect for any organization.  This project included challenges and solutions created by the necessity to manage vast amounts of riparian habitat within multiple watersheds, land use types, and stakeholder groups.