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The Ford Motor Company is nearing completion of the first phase of rebuilding the Ford portion of the Rouge Manufacturing Complex, a 1,100-acre facility that stands out as one of the world's great industrial centers. Ford is committed to transforming the facility into a sustainable manufacturing center, and the 67-acre Phase I redevelopment has provided a unique proving ground for Ford and its contractors. Watershed management has emerged as a major focus for application of sustainable practices in the facility renovation.

The site redevelopment plan will be implemented in several phases over a number of years. During the site master planning process, the storm water management strategy for the complex was upgraded from the historical industrial site approach (rapid removal of storm water through the use of conveyance piping) to a sustainable approach of extended retention and treatment using constructed treatment wetlands. When completed, Phase I of the Ford Rouge Center watershed will retain the volume of a 10-year, 24-hour rain event and allow the treated water to steadily discharge over an extended period. This watershed will, as closely as possible, emulate the hydraulic and water-quality behavior of the area's natural watersheds.

The site presented several significant obstacles to the sustainable watershed design process, such as a flat landscape that prevents gravity drainage to sustainable treatment units; limited available space, preventing the use of large ponds or wetland surfaces in the storm water treatment process; and a long industrial site history that discourages excavation for water management structures or forced groundwater recharge as an alternative storm water pathway.

These challenges were overcome in the Phase I design by using a centralized porous underground storage bed underlying the 19-acre vehicle shipping lot. The porous bed was built atop the existing grade, avoiding excavation of a former rail yard. The flat site topography prevented gravity drainage to the porous storage bed, so an Archimedes screw pump system was designed to collect and deliver water to the storage bed from 49 acres of the Phase I watershed. A storm water treatment technology development area using tubular underground storm water storage, treatment wetlands, and other innovative management measures was previously constructed to test various best management practices and to treat the remaining 18 acres of the Phase I watershed.

The storm water management team, consisting of owner representatives, environmental and engineering consultants, together with the general contractor, successfully overcame the obstacles associated with developing a sustainable storm water management system at a historic manufacturing site.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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