Stormwater Management

Our approach to stormwater management has, and continues to change. The old way was all about getting it out fast. The new mantra is slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in.

This modern approach includes:

  • Multiple-use facilities
  • Recreation
  • Wetland preservation
  • Groundwater recharge.

It's a beautiful way to protect the environment and preserve green space in our community.

Green infrastructure is a stormwater management system that mimics the natural water cycle. Sustainable solutions like rain gardens slow down and spread out the flow of storm water. The result is a cleaner river and more beautiful city.

Storm drains for our city often do not lead to a treatment facility -- they go straight to the Grand River. Runoff from buildings, streets, and parking lots is often polluted. To prevent polluting the river, this water can be diverted into a rain garden. The water can filter through the soil and the plants can take up nutrients. Rain gardens clean the water before it enters our groundwater supply.

Check out our Green Infrastructure Tour story map! You can take a real or virtual tour of the City's best examples of soaking in rain water where it lands. This improves water quality and helps prevent flooding.

Information on designing your own rain garden to help soak up water in your yard can be found in Landscaping for Water Quality.

Our new approach to stormwater management required a change to how we design, fund and maintain our infrastructure. If you'd like to learn more, we have a few documents you can download.

Since the 1980s, Grand Rapids has monitored the quality of the Grand River and major tributaries upstream and downstream of the city. We sample quarterly at 15 locations and take several complex measurements. We then combine those measurements into one easy-to-understand score. This score is the Water Quality Index.

Today, the index is consistently above 70, upstream and downstream. This indicates “good” water quality.

Check out our Water Quality Index map. You can click a sampling point on the map and see the index at that point for the past several years.

The City partners with Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) to ensure consistent reporting and public education in the watershed. Here is some of the key information available at

Adopt a Drain program

Illicit Discharge reporting

Permit Documents and Progress Reports

Mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. In Grand Rapids, we are only concerned with West Nile virus and Jamestown Canyon virus. You can learn more about both from the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

West Nile Virus (KCHD)

West Nile Virus (CDC)

James Canyon Virus (CDC)