A stormwater management education trail is coming to Lawrence Technological University
in Southfield, and whether you get the point of a project like that or not, you should know that what will be taught there affects us all.
Anyone, not just Lawrence Tech students, can walk the trail, which in large part is funded by a $57,000 donation from the Erb Family Foundation
of Birmingham. It will be open to anyone wanting to understand how managing the water that runs off of our homes, businesses, schools and so on is crucial to keeping streams, rivers, lakes - and plants, animals and people - healthy, says Donald Carpenter, an associate professor at Lawrence Tech and founder and director of the Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute
at the school.
The education comes through signs posted at seven or eight stops along the trail and through booklets with more detailed information about ways to manage water use and storm drainage so that it is less damaging to the environment. The signs will describe various run-off prevention and water preservation features on Lawrence Tech's campus, most of which are within 100 yards of each other and easy to link on a trail system. There are green roofs, porous pavement, rain barrels, native plants and other methods. They're all things that most anyone can add to their home. Carpenter hopes that the trail, along with other efforts at the school, will help educate builders, architects, local zoning officials and others that these features can be a regular part of any construction.
"Water that's running straight off parking lots and roads is highly polluted," Carpenter says. "There are ways to slow down the flow of that water so that it's less polluted by the time it gets to the streams, rivers and lakes."
In addition to an in-person tour of the trail, there will be virtual education tours online and pdf files matching the information provided in the trail guide booklets. Both projects will be advertised to the general public, schools, organizations that may want to tour, Carpenter says.
"In general I think there is a disconnnect for a lot of the public in understanding how water management works, the tie between water management, and protecting our water," says Carpenter, who finds in his school education visits that elementary and middle school-aged children have a better grasp of the topic than high schoolers and their parents. "Some people still don't understand when they fertilize their lawns, don't pick up after dogs, use too many pesticides…that they're having an impact on our water."
Carpenter hopes the trail will be ready in time for a green infrastructure conference being hosted by Lawrence Tech Sept. 23. If it's not ready by then or at the latest October, it will debut in the spring, he says.
The mission of the Erb Family Foundation, founded by Fred and Barbara Erb, is to nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit by supporting projects aimed at restoring the Great Lakes Basin. Source: Donald Carpenter, associate professor, Lawrence Technological University, and founder and director, Great Lakes Stormwater Management InstituteWriter: Kim North Shine