The Fate of the Lower Boardman River

Michael Delp and Christine Crissman

Is the Lower Boardman River being choked with development? Can it handle the stormwater pouring off urban areas throughout the Traverse City Area?  Are there any natural areas left to protect along its meandering banks?

Writer, poet, teacher and fisherman, Michael Delp raises these and many other questions with Christine Crissman, Executive Director of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. In this lively exchange of views, we learn that city, state and federal regulations – as they exist today – may not be enough to preserve the natural habitat and water quality of the Lower Boardman River and the Grand Traverse Bay.

credit: Steve Largent

As Crissman points out, the changing climate is bringing more frequent and more severe rain storms to our region. And sometimes these storms are enhanced by sudden snow melts. As more land is developed and more areas urbanized, the amount of impervious surface increases in the watershed. These expanding areas covered with roof tops, parking lots, sidewalks, decks, patios and other structures result in an increasing amount of water running off and toward the bay, every time it rains. More urbanization combined with increasing precipitation means a lot more stormwater runoff to manage – more than old storm sewers can bear.

According to Crissman, now is the time to develop an effective, enforceable plan to protect what’s left of the Lower Boardman River’s natural areas AND provide for the management of stormwater. Without adequate controls and treatment of stormwater, water quality in the Boardman River and the Grand Traverse Bay will suffer – as will the fish and wildlife that depend on these resources.

Crissman sounds hopeful as she explains that stormwater can and should be controlled on site with adequate tree canopy and appropriate infiltration systems. She says, we can find a workable balance between development and preservation, but it takes planning and cooperation.



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