A Stormwater History of Grand Valley State University and an Assessment of the Stream Quality of the Little Mac Ravine
As Grand Valley State University (GVSU) was built and expanded in Allendale, Michigan, the negative impacts of the campus stormwater discharge on the ravines also grew. It was not until the early 2000’s that GVSU began to understand the impacts stormwater had on the ravines. In 2011, 32 acres of stormwater drainage from the west side of campus was diverted to a series of constructed wetlands. Prior to this change, a biological baseline was determined by Snyder et al (2008) by sampling the macroinvertebrates in the Little Mac stream (Snyder et al 2008). The purpose of this project was to examine the series of campus events that resulted in the degradation of the ravine streams and to compare new macroinvertebrate data to the set collected in 2008 for signs of change since the reduction flow in stormwater to the ravines. Chapter One of this report discusses the major changes to the GVSU Allendale campus that impacted stormwater. The Allendale campus was constructed on farm fields near the Grand River in 1960. The first buildings were completed in 1964 and GVSU continued building and expanding since then. The area of impervious surface went from zero acres in 1960 to over 170 acres now, and the university continues to add new buildings to accommodate the growing student population. The stormwater management practices shifted from subsurface pipes draining directly to the ravines in the beginning to the implementation of practices, such as rain gardens, green roofs, and wetlands, to reduce stormwater runoff and utilize it for irrigation on campus beginning in 2007.
In Chapter Two, I discuss the results of macroinvertebrate samples collected in the Little Mac stream and the control stream in 2013. The results for the Little Mac stream were compared to samples collected by Snyder et al (2008). The comparison of the macroinvertebrates sampled in 2013 and 2008 showed that overall the changes were insignificant. However, some of the changes indicated the stream was beginning to stabilize and allow areas of soft sediment accumulation, which were not previously present. The comparison with the control stream samples revealed that the Little Mac stream is more degraded than the stream without urban impairments. This supports the idea that GVSU needs more restoration efforts to improve the water and habitat quality of the Little Mac stream.
Chapter Three presents the project conclusions, management implications of the results, and recommended restoration activities. Additional research priorities also are presented. Since GVSU controls the entire watershed of the ravines, it will be easier for the University to continue working at the watershed scale to manage stormwater. Additional practices that should be explored include stream bed restoration, use of plants for stream bank stabilization wherever possible, and construction of wetlands within the ravine to aid with flow control and contaminant filtration.
Hamilton, Christina, "A Stormwater History of Grand Valley State University and an Assessment of the Stream Quality of the Little Mac Ravine" (2015). Honors Projects. 379.