Lake Street Stormwater Improvements

City of Whitehall

Porous pavement and underground stormwater detention help Whitehall's Lake street go green.

Whitehall planned to reconstruct 2,800 feet of Lake Street as a “green street” in 2012 using EPA funds, since the street would be equipped with an environmentally–friendly storm water system to collect, filter, and promote infiltration of runoff from 60 acres of surrounding streets and industrial properties. The system improves water quality and reduces the amount of storm water entering White Lake.

EPA Funding

Lake Street in Whitehall runs between a large industrial area and the site of a former tannery on the shore of White Lake, an EPA Area of Concern (AOC). The tannery site, once a brownfield, is being redeveloped into Tannery Bay, which will include a marina, restaurants, condominiums, and three wetland areas.

Whitehall planned to reconstruct Lake Street as part of the Tannery Bay development, and the P&N team proposed turning Lake Street into a “green road” and pursuing EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding. By using storm water Best Management Practices (BMP), this project will further the EPA’s goals to reduce the amount and improve the quality of storm water entering White Lake. Whitehall received a grant for $376,000—50% of the construction cost. Receiving EPA funding for a street improvement project is incredibly rare; this is the only road project funded by the $450–million GLRI Program.

The goal of the new system will be to treat the storm water as many times as possible – and by as many methods as possible – before it enters White Lake.
Portions of the east edge of Lake Street abut a steep hill. The roadway was raised 1–3 feet, creating a small depression on its east edge that will be lined with filter strips. This filters and absorbs some of the water arriving from the east before it flows onto Lake Street.

Runoff on Lake Street was diverted into a series of bioswales that line both sides of the road. These direct the runoff into several detention zones lined with native trees and plants. The runoff then flows into the new Tannery Bay wetland areas. Each of these steps is designed to filter nutrient and sediment out of the runoff and encourage it to infiltrate the soil.

In addition, a pedestrian pathway (with the same elevation as Lake Street) was built between the bioswale system and the Tannery Bay property, keeping surface water from flowing directly into White Lake.

Porous pavement was installed for on–street parking areas and intersections along Lake Street, allowing some runoff to be absorbed into the soil rather than entering the storm water system. Runoff collected at industrial facilities east of Lake Street previously flowed through storm sewers to White Lake. This project added filtration chambers to these sewers, and then diverted the storm water to one of the Tannery Bay wetlands. These chambers also allowed Whitehall to monitor their system.
Alcoa–Howmet, an adjacent property–owner and the County’s largest employer, converted portions of its parking lot into rain gardens. Some of the runoff from the Alcoa–Howmet facility flowed into the rain gardens, through adjacent bioswales, and to the Tannery Bay wetland.

This 0.6–mile–long project was the most environmentally–friendly portion of Witehall’s roadway and storm water system. It is an asset to the Public Advisory Council for educating the public about the environmental impacts of storm water, as the EPA grant includes funds for public presentations, site tours, and on–site signage.

Challenges & Solutions

The project involved multiple stakeholders, including the Tannery Bay developer, adjacent property owner Alcoa–Howmet, and the Muskegon Conservation District, which is concurrently making GLRI–funded improvements to White Lake. This required multiple meetings to coordinated design and construction. The Muskegon Conservation District worked with P&N to coordinate the two GLRI–funded projects and assisted the Whitehall/P&N team in refining the second EPA grant application.


2012 Quality of Life Award (Third Place), American Society of Civil Engineers, MI Section


Call Jason Washler, P.E. at 616-364-8491 Email at:

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