Clean sweep: Grant funds to initiate green infrastructure program

Dave Lein, Editor

REGION – The Village of Elk Rapids will serve as a Great Lakes model, and launch a green infrastructure stormwater program, thanks a recent $150K grant and other funds allocated toward the projects.

Earlier this week, The Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay announced that it had received a $150,000 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes (NFWF-SOGL) program to initiate a stormwater program in the Village of Elk Rapids focusing on green infrastructure.

According to the Center, funding will specifically be used to retrofit a grassy area adjacent to the village marina into a bioswale, and existing flower beds at a local park into rain gardens.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have this investment from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to kick off a green infrastructure program in the Village of Elk Rapids,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center.

She explained that the goal of the project is to increase stormwater storage and infiltration capacity at various locations in the village to reduce harmful pollutant inputs to Grand Traverse Bay.

“In addition to reducing pollutants typically found in stormwater such as toxins, pathogens, nutrients and sediments, we estimate this work will reduce the amount of stormwater reaching the bay by approximately one million gallons a year,” U’Ren stated.

Local officials believe the project will strengthen a long-term partnership between The Watershed Center and village that will promote efforts leading to the adoption and installation of future green infrastructure practices in Elk Rapids.

“This is a time to celebrate our partners at The Watershed Center,” said Village president Jim Janisse. “Without them, Elk Rapids would not be able to accomplish this.”

Assistant Village Manager Caroline Kennedy agreed.

“This is a great example of how strong regional relationships are the key to implementing shared goals,” Kennedy said. “The Watershed Center has been persistent on our behalf and we thank our grant partners for recognizing the demonstration capacity of this very important project.

“Cultivating relationships is what results in successful public/nonprofit partnerships,” she added, “which also apply to public/public and public/private partnerships.”

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