Massive amounts of green are being spent to find “green” ways to help prevent basements, yards, streets and freeways in Detroit from flooding during heavy storms like one last monthBy COREY WILLIAMS Associated PressJuly 10, 2021, 4:52 PM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDETROIT — Massive amounts of green are being spent to find “green” ways to prevent basements, yards, streets and freeways in Detroit from flooding during heavy storms like one last month.Of $100 million pumped each year into infrastructure upgrades for the city’s aging water and sewer systems, $10 million goes toward installing detention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavement. Called green stormwater infrastructure, the features hold and slowly release rainfall into sewers, lessening flooding that has plagued Detroit and other older cities for decades.“It’s not the end-all-be-all, but it is a type of intervention that reduces wet weather flows into the system or delays them,” cautioned Palencia Mobley, deputy director and chief engineer for Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department.City officials say 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain that poured down in the area June 25-26 was the most at one time in 80 years. Like a funnel beneath a swiftly flowing faucet, the volume of water moved faster than it could be pumped out or pushed through sewers to water treatment plants.Water pooled in streets and yards as debris clogged sewer grates. Untreated water pushed up through basement drains. Motorists were stranded on freeways. New vehicles in one auto plant lot were nearly submerged.Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer soon would declare a state of emergency for the city and surrounding Wayne County.Near William M. Davis’ home in a west side neighborhood where Detroit’s water department recently installed sloping bioretention gardens in boulevard medians water rose in the basements. But Davis believes the $8.6 million project that was designed to manage more than 37 million gallons (140 million liters) of stormwater each year helped lessen the flooding. Rain and snowmelt seep through the soil into box-shaped chambers that store the flow before releasing it into the sewer system.“We still have problems … but it’s going in the right direction,” Davis said.Herbert Hollis saw water rise high enough to reach the pilot on the water heater in his basement. Hollis, 73, said the area always has had flooding, but this time “the water did go down” more quickly.At the new Stellantis Detroit Assembly Complex on the city’s east side, underground storage and adjacent stormwater parks helped alleviate the flow of around 12 million gallons (45.4 million liters) of water, according to the automaker. But a retention pond at another part of the complex was not able to release water due to the loss of power at a nearby city pumping station. Flooding to a shipping yard damaged 25 vehicles.Green infrastructure typically is more cost-effective when designed to manage smaller, more common storm events, said Anika Goss-Foster, CEO of Detroit Future City, which provides education programs and technical assistance on green infrastructure practices.“In Detroit, we have suffered two so-called 500-year storm events in the span of seven years,” she said. “And this latest flood in June demonstrated again the critical need to invest in our aging stormwater management systems to address serious flooding issues that are unfortunately becoming more and more common and will disproportionately impact low-income people who do not have the resources to recover from repeated flooding events.”Other cities with green infrastructure include New Orleans, which used $141 million in federal funds for the Gentilly Resilience District. It features a water garden designed and a network of vacant lots, streets and alleys that also capture stormwater.To help combat flooding in Atlanta’s historic Fourth Ward, city leaders decided against using more pipe and concrete and instead built a detention pond, water wall, splashpad and skatepark. The $23-million Historic Fourth Ward Park also kickstarted the city’s 22-mile (35-kilometer) Beltline Greenway, which has spurred economic development.“It was going to be a big dumb gray tank,” Mobley said. “They turned it into a stormwater park. You don’t know that that’s what it’s doing. They have beautiful flowing walkways and something that looks like a waterfall. But it’s functional infrastructure in the midst of a neighborhood.”A savannah-like look with wildflowers, other plants and grass walking paths is envisioned for a park in one west side Detroit neighborhood prone to seasonal flooding.The program attached to Rouge Park is expected to cost about $30 million over five years and manage 95 million gallons (360 million liters) of stormwater each year. Initial plans had a large tunnel being erected along the nearby Rouge River to handle untreated sewage discharges, but that would have been costly, Mobley said.“We were given the opportunity (by the state) to try to use stormwater management to reduce combined sewer overflows,” she said.
A caller told a 911 dispatcher that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was about to go into convulsions after he was struck in the chest with an errant Fourth of July fireworks mortar blast at a Michigan homeBy COREY WILLIAMS Associated PressJuly 6, 2021, 8:18 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleA woman told a 911 dispatcher that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks was “getting ready to go into convulsions” after he was struck in the chest by an errant Fourth of July fireworks mortar blast at a Michigan home.The call was one of three released Tuesday in connection with Kivlenieks’ death, which police are investigating as an accident.Another female caller said: “Hey, we have someone who was hit by a fireworks. Can you come here immediately? He’s breathing. We have a nurse here. He’s breathing, but he’s not doing very good.”Kivlenieks, 24 of Latvia, was struck about 10 p.m. Sunday at a home in Novi, about 28 miles northwest of Detroit. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.A large group of people was gathered at the home, about 28 miles northwest of Detroit, and “the fireworks had not been going on for very long” when Kivlenieks was struck, Lt. Jason Meier said Tuesday.Police have said the firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and tried to get clear with several other people when he was struck.The nine-shot firework being used was legal in Michigan and the person operating it at the time Kivlenieks was struck was in compliance with state laws, Meier said.“We understand he was training with the homeowner for the summer and was staying there,” said Meier, who declined to release the name of the homeowner or identify the person operating the fireworks.“When we’re done, we’ll review with the prosecutor’s office to cover all the bases,” he added.Fireworks-related death and injuries are on a rise, according to a report released in June by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It found 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2020 compared to about 10,000 in 2019.In it’s 2020 Fireworks Annual Report, the agency said its staff received reports of 18 non-occupational deaths last year in the United States. Of that number, 12 involved the misuse of fireworks. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff also has reports of 136 fireworks-related deaths between 2005-2020.In Michigan, consumer fireworks must meet CPSC standards. Licensed facilities only can sell fireworks to people 18 and older. Low impact fireworks like sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers are also legal for sale and use.State law stipulates that consumer-grade fireworks only can be ignited from personal property. It’s also illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.———Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.