The Peoples Water Board holds its meeting the second
Tuesday of the month at 5:30pm at the Cass Corridor
Commons at 4605 Cass Ave. Enter off of Forest.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Michigan's Water is NOT a Toilet for Cities

Submitted to the editor of the Detroit Free Press:

Dear Editor:

In Sunday’s (9/13/09) article, “Director Turner Goes into Overdrive” you mentioned that under Turner’s watch, DWSD “scrapped a $1.2-billion tunnel project and begun researching cheaper alternatives.”

What are these cheaper alternatives and what is the schedule for implementation? It is greatly disappointing that last year the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant was responsible for polluting 33 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into the Rouge and Detroit Rivers, which ultimately polluted Lake Erie. (By the way – 33 billion gallons translates into about two bathtubs of sewage per resident in the United States.) This is unacceptable and we need solutions now!

I invite DWSD to not only consider gray infrastructure to solve this problem, but to also look at “green” infrastructure solutions. Unfortunately, as DWSD discovered, gray infrastructure projects, such as tunnel projects like the Upper Rouge are very expensive. Furthermore, these costs typically translate into higher water rates which we cannot afford in a region with a high unemployment rate.

Fortunately, green infrastructure is a more cost-effective approach to managing stormwater that emphasizes keeping the rainwater and snowmelt on the land to the extent possible and letting it slowly percolate back into the ground. Wetlands, natural plantings along streams and rivers, rain gardens, “green roofs,” and permeable pavements are all examples of how green infrastructure can capture and filter rainwater. I hope DWSD considers incorporating these solutions. Not only would these solutions prevent stormwater from entering the sewer system, they would also add natural beauty to our community.

And it’s not unrealistic. Another Midwestern city with the same problem, Chicago, has a “Green Roof Improvement Program” and a “Green Alley” program to work with residents and businesses to slow down water and prevent it from entering the sewer system.

I also invite DWSD to engage the public in finding solutions. Many businesses and residents in this region care about water and realize what an incredible asset it is for Michigan’s economy.

Regardless, investing in Detroit’s sewer infrastructure is greatly needed and I hope DWSD finds solutions that are inexpensive to rate payers and quick to implement. We need to return the water we use to the way we found it. Our rivers and Great Lakes can no longer be toilets for our communities.

Respectfully submitted,
Melissa Damaschke
Sierra Club

No comments:

Post a Comment