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August 7, 2013

Update from the Green T demonstration block:


Update about the demonstration block:  The trees have been cut down.  There are several tires onsite and multiple other pieces of large trash that weren’t visible before.  If there weren’t any tires on the site, I would’ve been surprised!

2013.8.1 _ demonstration block tree removal

2013.8.1 _ demonstration block tree removal

Tires are the most common form of trash that you’ll see dumped on vacant land throughout Detroit.  Why?  Why not?!  It only makes sense because first of all, it’s the motor city.  Rubber is not easily recycled.  It can’t be incinerated.  It’s not very easy to breakdown.  Garbage companies don’t often pick them up to haul to the dump.  People don’t know what to do with them so they are often lying around Detroit in lonely piles.  With a little bit of searching, it often isn’t hard to find piles containing a few dozen or even over a hundred.

I’ve been long fascinated by the endless possibilities associated with the reuse or recycling of tires.  As a designer, I’ve considered the qualities of the material quite a bit.  Thick rubber can be very strong.  Thin rubber is malleable.  Waterproof.  Durable.  Flammable.  Black [neutral].  In Detroit, they are abundant and free.  This summer opportunity has presented me with an ideal opportunity to create a project that can utilize the unwanted tire as the focus material.  It is a symbol of Detroit’s economic rise and decline.  They are now discarded and forgotten just like many buildings and land parcels throughout the city.  How can the tire which has become detritus, be re-purposed and given new life?  It microcosm in the world of adaptive reuse within this city.  If successfully reused, I see the tire as a small piece of inspiration for other, larger scale projects throughout Detroit.  Projects that will consider new uses for every type of old material, building, and infrastructure.

Monday morning, our Green T team met with the general manager and the superintendent of engineering for the Detroit Water and Sewage Department [DWSD].  Exciting and informative!  DWSD controls wastewater collection and treatment within the city of Detroit.  They have an enormous task to manage all of it as well as try to figure out how to scale the operation down.  As Detroit’s population shrinks, the need for water management also downsizes.  It will be a difficult task to plan for integration or de-integration of the DWSD infrastructure into GI projects because they don’t have a comprehensive plan of the entire system.  I am surprised to learn that they don’t have an overall map or guide of the infrastructure and its flow directions.  We do know that the majority of surface water in the LEAP district ends up in the ‘Conner Creek Detention Basin’ which is located on Jefferson Ave at the South edge of the LEAP district.

2013.8.7 _ conner creek basin pumping station

2013.8.7 _ conner creek basin pumping station

Any surface water remediated in the area lightens the load at the local catchment basins.  If there is enough change to an area, there is potential to completely remove the entire local catchment basins and disconnect them from the sewer infrastructure.  This in turn would lighten the load on the ‘Conner Creek Detention Basin’ and ultimately at the main DWSD water treatment facility downriver [9300 W. Jefferson Ave].   Less water at the treatment facility means less money spent at the facility.  Detroit is a massive city in terms of land area.  Green infrastructure projects therefore could have a huge impact on the environment and cost savings for DWSD and the City of Detroit.  In the midst of a financial crisis, the city must consider these GI options!

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