Summit: Computerized stormwater infrastructure could save region hundreds of millions of dollars

The sixth annual Regional Stormwater Summit came and went recently. The takeaway? Money. Lots of it.

The Regional Stormwater Summit was held Friday, Oct. 5 at Lawrence Technological University’s Southfield campus.

Roughly 250 municipal officials, engineers, and activists attended this year’s summit.

Keynote speaker Branko Kerkez, Gerker and Goygit Faculty Scholar at the University of Michigan’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, presented his Open Storm project. The computerized monitoring system makes stormwater management infrastructure more effective and efficient.

Such a system, he estimates, could save metro Detroit $500 million in infrastructure costs. The project recently won the $25,000 grand prize at the WEFTEC 2018 water and sewer management conference.

"Since starting these events in 2013, we have brought regional stakeholders together with experts in stormwater design and technologies," Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash said prior to the event.

"These efforts are now bearing fruit in projects across the region."

Other presentations examined topics including stormwater management standards and green infrastructure’s ability to mitigate the effects of climate change. A team from Wayne State University presented their miniature sensors that monitor pathogens, phosphorous level, pH, heavy metals, and temperature. The team has since incorporated as Microbuoy Inc.

A trade show for stormwater management products and services was also held.

Lawrence Tech partnered with the office of Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner and the nonprofit group Pure Oakland Water for the event.

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