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EGLE director joins EPA, City of Benton Harbor to highlight million dollar ‘green infrastructure’ grant

Today’s MI Environment story is based on a press release by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Phil Roos, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), joined representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Benton Harbor’s All Things Wellness celebration last week in Benton Harbor to highlight a $1,059,022 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant, which will fund stormwater projects in the city.

EGLE Director Phil Roos (back row) and Emily Finnell (front row holding banner) of the Office of the Great Lakes, at the Benton Harbor on Sept. 30, 2023 announcing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. Courtesy of the EPA.

EGLE Director Phil Roos (third from left in back row) and Emily Finnell (front row holding left side of banner), of the Office of the Great Lakes, joined representatives from the EPA  and the City of Benton Harbor at the event announcing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. Photo courtesy of the EPA. 


“The EGLE team has enjoyed collaborating with the city, EPA, and many local partners. We are excited about the on-the-ground work in the city that will be funded by the GLRI,” said Roos. “This is happening through the efforts of a lot of people at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, and those efforts are going to continue.”

“These projects take advantage of nature’s own ability to both cleanse and slow the rush of stormwater while also providing beauty and access to recreational opportunities for residents,” added Emily Finnell, who leads Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes. Finnell spearheaded the multi-agency work. “The commitment of all our partners was evident as this grew from concept to reality.”

The grant will provide funding for two projects, both of which will improve stormwater management in critical areas of the Ox Creek watershed and help foster climate resiliency. For the first project, a contractor will install green infrastructure to capture and treat stormwater in Hall Park. A new parking area will also be added to improve access to Hall Park and Ox Creek. These parking spaces will be surrounded by vegetated retention areas which will catch and filter stormwater runoff. The second project will create rain gardens for stormwater retention in Benton Charter Township, which will reduce urban runoff and improve water quality in Ox Creek. EGLE will subaward a grant to Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (SWMPC) one of 14 planning and development organizations created by the State of Michigan in 1968. SWMPC serves Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties and will administer the projects.

Funding for the projects is provided by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which directed $1 billion towards the GLRI.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative accelerates efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world – the Great Lakes. Since 2010, the multi-agency GLRI has provided funding to 16 federal organizations to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The EPA’s press release includes additional information.