The Watershed Center works to reduce runoff pollution from reaching Grand Traverse Bay. We partner with the City of Traverse City, numerous townships and scores of volunteers on measurable on-the-ground projects that yield real results. We continually research rapidly evolving runoff technologies.
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like roofs, driveways, sidewalks and streets prevent stormwater runoff from naturally soaking into the ground. Runoff increases erosion, which results in more sediment flowing to Grand Traverse Bay. Excessive sediment from erosion, along with nutrients such as phosphorus from fertilizers, are the top two water quality threats to Grand Traverse Bay. Effectively managing runoff reduces sediments and nutrients from reaching the Bay.
It also keeps Grand Traverse Bay oligotrophic, meaning cold. Runoff that flows over paved areas and land becomes warmer. Effective runoff management reduces such thermal pollution, which is important for cold water species such as Lake Trout.
Hear more about Runoff Drains.
Installing Stormwater Runoff Improvements
East Bay Park Project
- With funding from the US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we installed three filters, each with oil and grit separators, sediment filters and antibacterial filters. This reduced a health risk at a popular swimming beach and further protects the drinking water source for 15,000 people.
Suttons Bay Rain Gardens
- With funding from the US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we installed 18 rain gardens in residential areas and 3,612 feet (nearly 3/4 mile) of underground infiltration trench. The project will reduce the public health risk of bacterial contamination of nearshore waters coming from three main storm drains outletting to Suttons Bay.
Our Kids Creek Restoration Project continues with the installation of two sets of underground infiltration trenches at the Cowell Family Cancer Center construction site at Munson Medical Center. When completed, the infiltration trenches will filter stormwater runoff from the cancer center roof and parking lot, preventing its diversion into storm drains and ultimately into Kids Creek, which is on the State’s Impaired Waters List. The infiltration trenches consist of an underground pipe with holes set in a bed of gravel and can hold up to 240,000 gallons of water. Water flows into the pipes then slowly infiltrates into the ground. Funding for the project comes from US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Nonpoint Source grants.