Fenkell Stormwater Projects

Project Overview

The Brightmoor neighborhood faces a number of challenges with its current aging infrastructure. Stormwater and sewer systems are unified into a single combined system, which was built decades ago and is sized to handle a limited volume. During heavy rain events the system’s capacity may be exceeded causing the excess stormwater and untreated sewerage to overflow to the Rouge River. This overflow point is called a Combined Sewer Overflow, or CSO. When CSOs are utilized, untreated stormwater and sewage flow into the Rouge River and have a negative impact on the environment. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is working with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to eliminate CSOs in accordance to state law.

To help reduce the CSOs, DWSD will be repurposing 92 Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) parcels to create 20-24 bioretention gardens to reduce the amount of rain and snow melt from the combined sewer system, resulting in reduced street flooding and basement backups in the Brightmoor neighborhood. 

This impactful project will modernize the neighborhood’s underground infrastructure system and will lessen the effects on the environment through a reduction in untreated CSO discharges.

Project Goals:

  1. Meet State permit requirements for reductions in stormwater runoff to sewers

  2. Reduce sewage overflows to the Rouge River

  3. Improve the water quality of the Rouge River

Surface Green Stormwater Infrastructure Goals

The project includes the installation of 20-24 bioretention practices on 92 vacant DLBA parcels designed to receive and manage rain and snowmelt runoff diverted from impervious/hard surfaces including the nearby streets. DWSD will maintain the parcels well into the future under its Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) program. The Fenkell Stormwater Projects will also remove a portion of Blackstone between Keeler and Midland streets to create an area to reduce flooding and basement backups, which alone will manage more than 2 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Project Timeline

  • 2022-2023:                            Design and analysis
  • Spring-Summer 2023:      Community engagement and input; final design
  • Fall 2023:                               Contract awarded
  • Spring 2024:                        Construction starts
  • Winter 2024:                        Construction completed

Community Engagement & Meetings

The project is currently in the design phase. In-person conversations were held with the two property owners on Blackstone. A meeting with the residents directly adjacent to the project sites was held on May 23, 2023 to announce the project. The first community-wide meeting will be held in August.

DWSD will continue to host community engagement and update meetings throughout the project, including a pre-construction meeting. Please join the mailing list and keep posted to this webpage.

Join the email list to receive project updates

  • Send your name and email address to DWSD Public Affairs with the subject line "Fenkell Stormwater Projects."
Questions? Call 313-880-2812.


Project Funding

The project is being funded by the following organizations:

  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) - $429,375
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) - $300,000
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - $600,000
  • U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture - $300,000