WMU, community groups developing plan for local waterways

Contact: Deanne Puca

One of WMU's on-campus stormwater control projects.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is working with community organizations to develop a plan for reducing pollution and protecting and improving water quality for two local waterways.

A steering committee made up of community stakeholders from the city of Kalamazoo, city of Portage, Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County and several environmental nonprofit organizations has been convened to provide input into the plan. 

WMU, local municipalities, conservation organizations, academic institutions and watershed residents will update the watershed management plan for Arcadia and Portage creeks, originally developed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2006. The planning team anticipates the new watershed management plan will receive state and federal approval later this year. Kieser and Associates LLC is serving as the technical consultant for the project.

Portage and Arcadia Creek watersheds cover a large part of the city of Kalamazoo from downtown west to Oshtemo Township and from Kalamazoo south through the city of Portage in Kalamazoo County. The current plan outlines a 10-year strategy on how to increase the use of best management practices, such as green infrastructure. 

WMU has been a long-time partner and leader in watershed management. For more than a decade, the University has been implementing green infrastructure and stormwater control projects on campus which is located in the Arcadia Creek Watershed. In total, community partners together with WMU have built 30 stormwater control projects utilizing federal and state grant funds and local matching funds. These projects were identified in the original EPA-approved watershed management plan and qualified for competitive grant funding under the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's nonpoint source program. 

One such project was the conversion of Lot 23, the lot near Miller Auditorium at the intersection of Western Avenue and Shaw Lane, from a two-acre asphalt parking lot into a stormwater treatment wetland. The treatment wetland now captures runoff and stormwater pollutants from 32 acres of campus, treating and filtering the water before it is discharged into Arcadia Creek. It included the addition of more than an acre of plantings native to Michigan which serve as pollinators and wildlife habitat. In addition, all new and redeveloped sites on WMU's campus require stormwater to be treated on site before being discharged to local waterways like Arcadia Creek or municipal storm sewers.

Other community partners such as Kalamazoo Valley Community College, city of Portage and city of Kalamazoo also have been implementing stormwater control projects identified under the original plan. Such projects include streambank restoration, stormwater biorentention and regional detention, treatment wetlands, and underground stormwater storage and reuse. 

For more information, contact Kieser and Associates at (269) 344-7117.

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