Cleaning Up the Bay – The Rain Garden Way

Wally Delamater

In this short video, we learn how the Village of Suttons Bay has embraced green infrastructure to remove pollution from the stormwater runoff – before it enters the Bay. Given the increasing frequency of severe rain storms, “on-demand” green infrastructure such as wetlands and rain gardens may be one our best answers to climate change.

About 5 years ago, Suttons Bay Village Manager Wally Demameter would look out his office window during a summer rain and watch a dark plume of polluted stormwater spread into the Bay. Pouring off roofs, sidewalks, parking lots and streets, the heavy rains would wash the sediments, oils, animal wastes and whatever else people left behind right though the storm sewers and into the Bay.

In response, the Village of Suttons Bay joined with the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay to find better way to manage and clean all that stormwater. With a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative operated by the U.S. EPA, they developed a plan to install new green infrastructure, including a large number of rain gardens throughout the village. This was new territory for the Village and a substantial commitment to a new way of doing things.

Sarah U’Ren, Program Director Watershed Center

With construction complete, the Village and citizen volunteers learned how to maintain the beautiful new rain gardens. And now Wally says, they’re working really well. The whole project has been so successful in fact, that the Village is installing additional rain gardens as part of their regular street project work. Best of all, the Grand Traverse Bay no longer carries the burden of all that polluted stormwater!

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