Stormwater & Low Impact Development


In the natural world, rain falls to the earth and soaks into the ground where it falls. In urban areas and sprawling suburban neighborhoods, our roofs, roadways, driveways, and parking lots prevent this, and the rain – now stormwater – runs off of these surfaces to our waterways and storm drains, picking up oils, heavy metals, salts, fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, pathogens, and other pollutants along the way.

Stormwater runoff is the leading source of water pollution in West Michigan, and we are working with several communities to implement low impact development (LID) practices, which manage stormwater by allowing the rain to soak in where it falls or by directing to a filtration area or catchment basin. Rain barrels and raingardens are two LID best practices that we highlight as part of our community services program. Raingardens and LID are key parts of our Teach for the Watershed program.

WMEAC has been working with the City of Grand Rapids to improve their stormwater management systems and facilities. With a grant from Dyer Ives, we’re researching and recommending alternative practices, funding mechanisms, and policy changes that can be implemented to help sustain the City’s substantial investments of time and resources to this effort.

In the Rogue River Watershed, WMEAC is partnering with Trout Unlimited to evaluate effectiveness of a stormwater guidebook that they are developing in collaboration with the City of Rockford and Algoma Township.

WMEAC also provides its expertise on related water issues on several community-based initiatives, including the Gerald R. Ford Airport Advisory Board and the Grand River Restoration Stakeholder Committee.

WMEAC is the proud owner of, the premier rain garden web site on the internet since 2002.  WMEAC also manages, a campaign website in support of Grand Rapids stormwater management.  View our PSA here.

Learn more about our stormwater management and LID programs by contacting Elaine Sterrett Isely at

The Center of the Universe: WMEAC's LID Teaching Tool

WMEAC is housed in the Center of the Universe, the first zero-stormwater discharge commercial site in Grand Rapids. This gives us the best teaching tool for stormwater management we could have: our office. We have a showcase green roof with an observation deck, and a rain garden off the parking lot that is so beautiful when in bloom that it has been featured in three national magazines. Schedule tours using our contact form here.

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