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Creating Natural Storm Water Management

In cities across America, storm water systems channel rainwater and snowmelt into drains and sewers. The sudden rush of water scours dust and dirt from paved surfaces, sending dirty water into nearby rivers and lakes.

By contrast, rain and snow at the Ford Rouge Center falls on acres of soft surfaces like the living roof, where storm water is captured and cleansed. And as large as it is, the 10.4-acre living roof is just one part of an extensive, natural storm water management system surrounding the Dearborn Truck Plant.

The system captures and cleans runoff before returning it to the watershed using natural processes, not chemicals. It also helps protect against flooding. An integrated system, it includes the living roof, natural treatment wetlands, vegetated ditches called swales, hundreds of newly planted trees, and the world’s largest porous pavement lot located north-west of the Dearborn Truck Plant.

Rain falling on the living roof is absorbed or filtered by sedum plants. Excess water drains off the roof into stone storage basins located under an innovative and absorbent porous parking lot nearby. Water then flows into swales and treatment wetlands where plants act as "nature’s filters" to help prevent dust and dirt from migrating into rivers and lakes.

A natural system like this one has the potential to save millions of dollars compared to installing and operating a traditional storm water treatment plant.

Rain falling on the living roof and porous pavement lot flows into swales like the one illustrated here, where it is filtered through the thick roots of plants before entering nearby rivers and lakes.
Courtesy Ford Motor Company.