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Upcoming restoration work will change look of Stadium Drive

by Jeanne Baron

Sept. 13, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--A water quality project targeting urban stormwater runoff entering Arcadia Creek that begins today will alter the view motorists see as they traverse Stadium Drive near Western Michigan University.

The project is being paid for by a $481,618 grant awarded to the Forum of Greater Kalamazoo from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, with technical assistance provided by Kieser & Associates, LLC. The grant is funded by the Clean Michigan Initiative, a $675 million bond approved by state voters to improve and protect Michigan's water resources.

"WMU is pleased to partner with other agencies to obtain grants that will improve water quality in our region, and whenever possible, we augment the effectiveness of these grants by folding in additional projects," says Jan VanDerKley, the University's vice president for business and finance. "To complement the new CMI grant, we've provided an in-kind match grant of $98,000 for stormwater improvements on our main campus at the newly constructed Western View Apartments area, which drains into Arcadia Creek."

The stretch of property that will be altered by the CMI grant project runs parallel to Stadium Drive from the intersection of Howard Street and Stadium east to WMU's Beam Power Plant. It is owned by WMU but also contains a Michigan Department of Transportation right-of-way.

Prominent ecological problems associated with the property include channelization, direct discharge of untreated urban stormwater, development encroachment on streambanks, flooding, hydraulic flashiness, invasive plant species, and wetland and floodplain loss.

To eliminate these problems, workers will be restoring the disconnected floodplains, stabilizing and protecting the eroded stream banks, and creating a series of stormwater detention ponds to allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground as well as slowly filter into Arcadia Creek. This work is expected to be completed by the end of November and will significantly alter Stadium Drive's look.

Among the most noticeable changes will be the removal of the dense, invasive vegetation bordering Arcadia Creek and Stadium Drive. Invasive plants will be replaced with native wetland vegetation. The new plantings will improve the area's ecology by increasing native habitat while at the same time improving water quality by removing nutrients and sediment from stormwater runoff.

Arcadia Creek is an integral part of the 43,723-acre Portage/Arcadia Creek subwatershed that drains into the Kalamazoo River. Because of its non-point source contributions from urban stormwater, the creek ranks as the sixth largest contributor of phosphorus to the Kalamazoo River. A watershed-wide effort to reduce phosphorus runoff to the river has been under way since 2001.