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Cheaper by the Wetlands

August 1, 2001 | By Andy Guy
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

The least expensive way to keep water clean is to let Mother Nature do the work.

That is the resounding lesson from the Rouge River cleanup, where the most pavement-covered communities are paying the highest price to prevent flooding and contamination while those with wetlands and streambanks intact are spending less for greater pollution-fighting effect.

The city of Dearborn, for instance, is now building a giant underground storage pipe at a cost of $350 million to hold and slow stormwater because it no longer has any open land areas large enough to do it above ground.

In contrast, Salem Township, upstream in Washtenaw County at the headwaters of the Rouge, spent only a few thousand dollars evaluating and approving safeguards for wetlands and streams that hydrologists say will do more to clean and slow stormwater.

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