Ann Arbor Council Wants Green Streets Policy

At its July 2, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council directed city staff from a range of different departments to work with the environmental commission to develop a “green streets” policy.

The policy would formalize an approach to stormwater management that would allow street projects to incorporate an “array of products, technologies, and practices that use natural systems – or engineered systems that mimic natural processes – to enhance overall environmental quality and provide utility services …” The goals of developing and implementing the policy include a reduction in the amount of untreated stormwater flowing from streets directly to the city’s stormwater system and into the Huron River. By implementing systems like bioswales, for example, a portion of the stormwater runoff from streets, which includes contaminants from the road surface, would be filtered naturally before entering the river.

To emphasize the impact that the city’s streets have on stormwater runoff, the staff memo accompanying the resolution indicates that Ann Arbor’s 27 square miles includes 11.2 square miles of impervious surface, of which about one quarter (2.9 square miles) is the city right-of-way. City staff estimate that half of the runoff in the city’s stormwater system comes directly from the city right of way.

At the council’s meeting two weeks ago, on June 18, 2012, city environmental commissioner Valerie Strassberg had addressed councilmembers, asking for their support in bringing the resolution forward. At that meeting, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) indicated she’d be bringing the resolution forward at the July 2 meeting. It was co-sponsored by Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5). Hohnke and Briere are the two city council appointees to the environmental commission.

The city staff who are directed to take part in the development of the green streets policy are in the systems planning, project management, field operations, parks and recreation, and planning departments.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]