Stateside
4:30 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

How Detroit can prepare for the next extreme rain event

Credit Wikimedia Commons

We can't prevent an extreme weather event like the deluge that flooded some streets in Metro Detroit last week. However, we can prepare for them. But how?

Crain’s Detroit Business Lansing reporter Chris Gautz did some research, and found that green infrastructure could be the answer. By using sustainable methods, he says we could keep water from getting to storm drains.

Some examples:

·         Pervious concrete - allows water to drain through the concrete into the ground

·         Gray water recycling systems -  water can be reused in sprinkler systems.

·         Green roofs or rain gardens - the water is used instead of going down the drain

Guatz wrote in his article that the inherent weakness in our current storm system is the amount of concrete covering the ground.

When parking lots were developed, the idea was to get the water off the parking lot as fast as possible. So they're designed to force the water into the drains.

“Go look out at a big parking lot and think when it rains, that rain can’t go into that concrete,” Gautz said. “It’s got to go somewhere, and it’s going into your basements.”

Gautz quoted a 2001 report from SEMCOG that found between $14 billion and $26 billion would be needed by 2030 to maintain and improve the sewer infrastructure.

Gautz said that now is the time to implement new strategies for future weather events.

“You know these pipes are getting older and the system is getting older, and you keep putting that much pressure on it and eventually something could break,” Gautz said.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Gautz above.