Southfield, Mich. — Lawrence Technological University (LTU) is the first of several test sites around the country for a new drainage system for parking lots that is expected to significantly reduce stormwater runoff, a major source of water pollution. The goal is to create a new national standard in stormwater design.

LTU is partnering with Parjana Distribution LLC of Detroit to improve water infiltration and mitigation through the use of new green technology called energy-passive groundwater recharge products (EGRPs), which work by balancing soil moisture and facilitating the movement of water between horizontal soil layers. It is a unique and dynamic solution that addresses soil moisture imbalance, excess water runoff and lack of underground water recharging.

EGRP is a solution that can work along with gray or other green water management systems such as best management practices or independently. The new drainage system to be tested also incorporates technologies from Haydite and Xeripave.

LTU and Parjana have received a $100,000 grant from a foundation and need to raise an additional $300,000 to complete the pilot project that will include similar demonstrations in partnership with universities in Ohio, California, Florida and Washington, D.C. The LTU drainage system was installed in December 2015, and the other four test projects should be completed by September 2016.

Each location will have monitoring equipment to gather performance data from the experimental drainage system. The results will be published with design guidelines. The goal is to develop a system that can be used across the country

The new system, which will replace the existing drainage system in a parking lot, requires a 6-foot excavation that is 20 feet by 25 feet, about the size of two parking spaces. A rounded, standard-size manhole is installed. The site is then covered with permeable pavement.

The system is designed to handle up to an inch of rain during a 24-hour period. “The first inch of rain represents the stormwater runoff volume with the highest pollutant loads, so capturing and infiltrating that volume will improve the water quality downstream,” said LTU Civil Engineering Professor Donald Carpenter, who is the project director.

Carpenter is the founding director of the Great Lakes Stormwater Management Institute at LTU. He has done extensive research on low-impact development techniques to reduce stormwater runoff, and served on the State of Michigan Low Impact Development Technical Implementation Committee.

Carpenter created a stormwater management education trail on the LTU campus that demonstrates several best management practices, including a green roof, a bioswale, porous pavers, naturalized areas, and rain gardens. The campus master plan calls for the installation of stormwater treatment wetlands, additional porous pavement, rain gardens, naturalized riparian buffers, an infiltration basin, and an integrated drainage system that mitigates stormwater runoff from all the parking lots.

Greg McPartlin, CEO of Parjana Distribution, said the partnership with LTU gives his company the opportunity to use its innovative technology to improve an important aspect of green infrastructure. “Stormwater runoff is one of the most pressing issues of development for municipalities and corporations. We expect this project will be an ultimate guideline to design and implement integrated green infrastructure for the future,” McPartlin said.