Grand Rapids stormwater manager to speak at GVSU on green infrastructure

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy -

Annie Giffels

Grand Valley State University students interested in learning more about Grand Rapids’ sustainability initiatives will have the chance to do so next week.

The GVSU Urban Planning Association (UPA) is bringing in engineer Carrie Rivette, Grand Rapids stormwater manager and lead on green infrastructure, to speak in Mackinac Hall B-1-118 on Monday,  Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. The main topic of discussion will be green infrastructure in Grand Rapids. 

Green infrastructure is an umbrella term for the many methods of conserving water and protecting the environment in ways that are natural and that mimic the water cycle. It means using nature to fix problems caused by urbanization. Though green infrastructure is also used in rural areas, it is considered especially important in larger, more urban cities.

Of the many different solutions and approaches to green infrastructure, one of the most popular is stormwater management. In general, to prevent flooding in areas of impermeable soil, stormwater management is a method of retaining stormwater that cannot infiltrate the soil of urban areas, such as Grand Rapids. Without measures like stormwater management, erosion and pollution are high on the list of negative repercussions.

“Green infrastructure is a major hot topic right now, especially in Grand Rapids,” said Christian Carroll, UPA president. As the head of the UPA, Carroll was in charge of reaching out to potential speakers and putting on the event itself. 

The UPA is an organization that advocates for the progression of urban planning and bettering the community, among other goals. 

To Sarah Steffens, financial officer for the UPA, Rivette and her pursuits to improve Grand Rapids with green infrastructure are hugely important.

“Rivette is an inspiration because she’s so knowledgeable about green infrastructure,” Steffens said. “Her passion is definitely something that I strive for.”

With more than 20 years of experience in water resources, Rivette has helped the Grand Rapids’ stormwater management program earn “gold level” in project management and innovation. Rivette also played a role in initiating and implementing the Vital Streets Initiative in Grand Rapids. 

Following her lecture on green infrastructure and its benefits in Grand Rapids, Rivette will take questions and talk to guests for the last 15 minutes of the hour-long event. The discussion is LIB 100-approved, so GVSU students studying any major are invited to attend and learn more.

Carroll is sure this discussion will benefit all those attending, especially those who have an interest in preserving and protecting the environment.

“This event is for anyone that’s interested in sustainability and environmental studies,” Carroll said. He expects a turnout of up to 20 students. 

“The discussion is open to anyone,” Steffens said. “It’s something that is interesting to learn, especially since it’s happening right in Grand Rapids.”

This discussion will be the first of three lectures held by the UPA.