DWSD to install 24 bioretention gardens on westside as part of grant-funded Fenkell Stormwater Projects

  • The four grant-funded projects will benefit about 100 occupied homes, reducing basement backups and street flooding in the Brightmoor neighborhood
  • Funded with $3.4M and repurposing 92 DLBA parcels, the projects will manage stormwater runoff from 50 acres and 9 million gallons of rain/snowmelt annually
  • A former creek bed on Blackstone Street will be transformed into a stormwater project that includes vacating part of the street, pending City Council approval

As we near the two-year mark of the June 2021 rain event, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announces that 92 Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) parcels will be transformed into 24 bioretention gardens to reduce street flooding and basement backups in the Brightmoor neighborhood. The new stormwater projects, to be constructed by the end of 2024, will also reduce combined sewer overflows which creates more capacity in the city’s sewer system for rain events.

Today’s announcement also leads into the first community engagement meeting. Brightmoor and Minock Park residents will be able to hear about the project and share their preferences for the types of trees, plantings and other features. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Crowell Recreation Center at 16630 Lahser Road.

Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison said that similar to the recent announcement about speeding up lead service line replacements with federal funding, “this project is an example of how we as a city can leverage other federal dollars to reduce flooding in our neighborhoods. The team at DWSD is working every day to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods through transformative projects.”

The Fenkell Stormwater Projects planning began in 2022 and is currently in the design phase with construction anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024. DWSD is engaging the community and stakeholders with meetings and outreach throughout 2023, and during construction next year.

The grant funders are:

  • Unites States Forest Service - $300,000
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency -- $600,000
  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation -- $300,000
  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) - $429,375

“We launched the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program in 2015 with an ultimate goal of reducing localized flooding and combined sewer overflows,” said Lisa Wallick, DWSD field services director for permits and stormwater management. “As we learned from our existing 19 projects and discovered new funding sources, we found opportunities in other neighborhoods. Thanks to our four funders, we can help improve the quality of life in Brightmoor through these projects, and this is just the beginning for improved stormwater management.”

DWSD installing 24 bioretention gardens in Brightmoor The project includes the installation of 24 bioretention practices on 92 vacant DLBA parcels designed to receive and manage rain and snow melt 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 department has 19 other existing GSI projects.

DLBA CEO Tammy Daniels said, “We are pleased to be part of DWSD’s ongoing effort to improve stormwater management across the city. Today, we’re transferring 92 parcels, but DWSD has also asked us to hold hundreds of additional properties for future projects, ensuring they have access to the best possible infrastructure opportunities. The four new projects in Brightmoor demonstrate how creativity and collaboration can return vacant DLBA lots to productive use, adding beauty and benefits for neighbors.”

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. Property owners signed on to support this effort and a community meeting was held on February 2, 2023. The partial street vacation is pending City Council approval.

These projects will create capacity within the City’s combined sewer system to help reduce basement backups and street flooding. The project in total will manage stormwater runoff from approximately 50 acres and will treat approximately 9 million gallons of stormwater annually, reducing the amount of untreated combined sewage that is released into the Rouge River. Beyond stormwater management, the project will also include hundreds of new trees, shrubs and other community amenities that will add beauty to the neighborhood.

Integration with other projects In addition to using DLBA parcels, DWSD is coordinating directly with the City of Detroit’s Planning Department for integration into the Brightmoor Neighborhood Framework Plan to ensure alignment and vision for the neighborhood and its residents are unified in the projects’ efforts.

Detroit-based and minority-owned business opportunities DWSD has prioritized using Detroit-based companies for stormwater projects and will continue sourcing local and minority-owned companies wherever possible. The Fenkell Stormwater Projects’ scope allows for a greater participation of small construction companies to bid on the work. These projects can help grow small and minority-based contractors and develop the unique skill sets to build and maintain GSI.

REPORTERS/EDITORS/PRODUCERS: DWSD has renderings and photos for this project at:  https://dwsd.box.com/s/5yilfzuuaazu0kw0nfmeqfyxh4w08tgg.

Map and facts for the DWSD Fenkell Stormwater Projects
Map and facts for the DWSD Fenkell Stormwater Projects


Rendering of Blackstone Street after stormwater installation and street vacation.
Rendering of Blackstone Street after stormwater installation and street vacation.


About the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) delivers clean water and collects sanitary sewage and stormwater from more than 230,000 accounts, representing a residential population of nearly 700,000. DWSD’s water system consists of more than 2,700 miles of water main and 29,000-plus fire hydrants, and the combined sewer collection system has nearly 3,000 miles of sewer piping, more than 90,000 catch basins and 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects within the city of Detroit. Since June 2019, DWSD has committed $100 million per year to begin to address the aging infrastructure, including replacing lead service lines. To learn more about DWSD or to request water services, make payments, apply for affordability programs, or report water or sewer emergencies, call DWSD Customer Service at 313-267-8000, use the Improve Detroit mobile app, or visit www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd.