For my Impact Project I partnered with Detroit Future City on a project that looked at the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Workforce Potential in Detroit. This is important because this year Detroit is revising an old drainage fee that is supposed to more “fairly” charge property owners for drainage. This is happening because Detroit has a CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) system. This means that when Detroit gets a heavy rain the rainwater and sewage can potentially mix, which is a large EPA violation that is common in a lot of older cities. So to combat this and have funds to update the infrastructure so that this no longer happens they are charging property owners based off of the amount of impermeable pavement that they have on their properties. To further break that down, residents are being charged for anything that is permanently on their property that water runs off of and does not directly absorb into the ground, think, homes, driveways and garages. For some residents, small business owners and non-profits, especially those with surface parking lots this has the potential to be a very large hit on them financially.
A way to combat this revised tax, while helping the environment is Green Infrastructure (GI) projects. These can include; raingardens, bioswales that use Michigan native plants, using pavers that have vegetation between them, permeable pavement and other innovative ideas that help reduce runoff and ensure the water is going into the ground. There are really great examples of these ideas all over, including in places in Detroit itself. The ideal situation would be to create more of these projects and to be able to employ Detroit residents to do the work. I believe treating this workforce similar to a skilled trade would be best, so they can get on the job training, experience and then do a certification program to further legitimize them and make them marketable for other large GI projects. I look forward to seeing the innovative ways Detroit will bring GI projects into the city and neighborhoods.