Dearborn encourages green infrastructure upgrades with matching grant dollars

The pilot season for Dearborn’s Rain Garden 50/50 Cost Share program is down to its final month.

The program has been a success, says Jeffrey Polkowski, a planner for the City of Dearborn Planning Division. So much so that it could return in an even bigger fashion in 2019, given if grant money comes through.

Polkowski founded the program, which began in April 2018.

The Rain Garden 50/50 Cost Share program was designed to encourage residents to build rain gardens with permeable surfaces that allow for stormwater management. The program matches every dollar spent on rain gardens, up to $1,000 each.

Rather than sliding off the pavement and into the sewers, rain gardens allow stormwater to sink into the soil. The soil then filters bacteria from the water, saving the Rouge River watershed from those toxins.

Rain gardens also improve neighborhood beautification efforts.

Polkowski says that though the program got off to a slow start, word of mouth quickly spread, leading to the program’s robust summer.

"It’s definitely attributed to resident testimonials," he says. "The interesting thing about green infrastructure is that the people that are interested in it are passionate about it."

The program was first made possible by a Green Infrastructure Champions Grant Dearborn received from the Great Lakes Commission. City council then agreed to match that grant. As such, residents that apply for the program receive $1 for every $1 they spend.

Polkowski hopes to expand the program next year, though that depends on receiving another grant. If successful, he will continue the rain garden program but also look to grow with more pieces of green infrastructure, like rain barrels.

Visit the Rain Garden 50/50 Cost Share program online.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.