Rouge River: “PARC”ing Stormwater in its Place

The Rouge River, located in southeast Michigan’s metro-Detroit region, has come a long way since catching fire fifty years ago. Working since 1986 with the Rouge’s 48 communities, corporate partners, and thousands of the Rouge’s 1.35 million residents, Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) has helped bring the Rouge back to life, returning an industrial river once again into a thriving river for people to enjoy. However, the Rouge still faces major problems with excessive stormwater runoff from the largely urbanized lands that drain to the river. Major storms in 2014 caused over $1 billion in flooding damage across the region, a problem expected only to worsen due to climate change. In 2018, Friends of the Rouge launched the RainSmart campaign to promote green infrastructure across the region, aiming to put community landscapes to work soaking up the rain through green infrastructure. Now, Friends of the Rouge seeks to catalyze broad change across the region by establishing a transformative and impactful green infrastructure demonstration project at its headquarters at the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC).

The goal of Rouge River: “PARC”ing Stormwater in its Place is to create a high-performance, integrative stormwater management system at Friends of the Rouge’s (FOTR) headquarters at PARC. The project would fund an integrative green infrastructure site design, plus up to 31,500 square feet of bioretention and 11,000 square feet of permeable pavers as part of an urgently needed parking lot resurfacing project. FOTR would heavily and actively promote the proposed water investment, recruiting as many as 1,000 community volunteers to plant the proposed bioretention islands and taking a lead role in maintaining the project to ensure their long-term function and efficacy in engaging PARC’s over 150,000 unique visitors per year.

About PARC: PARC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Plymouth, Michigan with a mission to enrich lives through quality arts, education and recreation programs for all ages. An environmental vision rests at the heart of the PARC project, which through adaptive reuse prevented the destruction of the 105 year old former Central Middle School building. Now, with over 30 non-profit and arts tenants, PARC supports an incredible diversity of arts and recreation activities, which include performing arts, music, visual arts, education, culinary arts, sports, fitness, and recreation. Flagship tenants include the College for Creative Studies, the Plymouth YMCA, and Friends of the Rouge.

* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge


Plymouth, MI

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Community Engagement & Education

Enhancing Recreation & Economic Benefits

Green Infrastructure Investment

Water Quality Improvement

Wildlife & Habitat Protection

Project Type:

Restoration of Natural Hydrology *


Funding Needed

Volunteer Opportunities