Collaborative Assessment of Stormwater Runoff on Tribal Lands

Washed out road.

Project Team

Frank Marsik - U-M College of Engineering, Climate and Space Sciences Engineering
Maria Carmen Lemos - U-M School for Environment and Sustainability
Robin Clark - Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan

Additional Partners

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

Project Summary

Since 1900, annual precipitation has increased by 11% in the Great Lakes, while the amount of precipitation falling in the heaviest one percent of storms increased by 37 percent across the Midwest from 1958 to 2012. One extreme event in July 2016 led to extensive flooding in northcentral Wisconsin, resulting in a State of Emergency for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In response, Michigan Tribes have pursued climate adaptation planning seeking to assess and address the susceptibility of Tribal communities to increased rainfall and extreme events.

Through funding from the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) and Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan (ITCM) worked collaboratively to organize and conduct a Tribal Climate Workshop in October 2017 to address climate adaptation issues, including extreme precipitation. During the 2017 Tribal Climate Workshop, GLISA discussed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Stormwater Calculator (SWC), which provides a quantitative assessment of stormwater runoff in a community, as well as the potential effectiveness and cost of low-impact development options (e.g., rain gardens) to reduce this runoff. These critical assessments are, however, time- and cost-prohibitive for many Tribal natural resources departments.

The proposed project will result in the application of the SWC on the lands of five Tribes in Michigan, which will:

  • allow these Tribal communities to develop management best practices to protect the critical infrastructure and valued aquatic resources in their communities, and
  • provide quantitative information necessary to seek new funding to implement the management practices assessed through this work.

This project received a $10,000 Catalyst Grant in 2018.