$40 million Detroit project to increase capacity in local, regional sewer system

(UC) — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has revealed a five-year, $40 million project that redirects rainwater and snowmelt from a westside neighborhood into two new detention basins, as well as provides other neighborhood improvements.

The construction will be led by Detroit-based business, Major Contracting.

Two new detention basins will filter stormwater and discharge it directly into the Rouge River, providing significant relief to the local and regional combined sewer system. The project also includes water main and lead service line replacement. New for this DWSD project is the addition of downspout disconnections for about 400 houses that have gutter downspouts connected to the sewer system. Major Contracting will begin the preparations for the new sewer piping related to the detention basins. 

“After three years of community engagement with the Far West Civic Association, the Friends of Rouge Park along with other stakeholders, today we begin construction of our largest stormwater project to date,” Gary Brown, DWSD director, said. “The stormwater improvement project in Far West Detroit is unique to our other 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects in that it redirects stormwater from an entire neighborhood into new detention basins in a city park and keeps it out of the sewer system by discharging to the Rouge River. It is transformative projects like this which will lead to operating a more climate resilient sewer system.”

As part of its long-term strategy to reduce the amount of rainwater and snowmelt going into the combined sewer system, DWSD has been designing and planning a massive stormwater project in the Far West Detroit neighborhood near Rouge Park since 2016. Several community meetings have taken place and regulatory approval from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) has been secured.

Construction of the ultimate stormwater retention project started in July and will be completed within five years and will represent an investment of more than $40 million. The project, which also will include water system and sewer system upgrades, will direct roof and street runoff from the Far West Detroit neighborhood near West Warren and Telegraph Road into two new stormwater retention basins. There are 1,200 homes in the neighborhood.

It is estimated that the retention project will remove 98 million gallons of stormwater runoff each year from the combined sewer system on the city’s far west side. A regional effort, led by DWSD, significant funding has been secured from the Oakland County Water Resources Commission as the project also benefits the Evergreen-Farmington Sanitary Drain Drainage District.

The stormwater will be stored in the new retention area, allowing it to be filtered naturally before being discharged into the Rouge River.

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