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Meijer Unveils Rain Gardens To Improve Water Quality At Store


In an effort to improve the water quality in Ox Creek and support pollinators that are critical for local agriculture, Meijer partnered with the Berrien County Drain Commission and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission to install four rain gardens throughout its Benton Harbor store parking lot.

The project is comprised of three small rain gardens in the retailer’s main parking lot and a fourth on property located next to the store and represents the largest retailer-led green infrastructure installation in the area.

“Meijer is committed to Great Lakes stewardship because our waterways are vital to our everyday lives,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability. “Improving the water quality in local watersheds, like Ox Creek, is not only the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint but will ultimately benefit everyone as it improves overall quality in the Great Lakes.”

Meijer donated a portion of its property to the Berrien County Drain Commission for the project, which is being managed by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. It was funded by EGLE and developed by Wightman, B&Z Company and Arcadia Gardens.

Installation of the main garden, which had been used for overflow parking, began this summer when crews dug up the parking lot. It was filled with compost soil to help infiltrate stormwater and grow native plants, and finally, planted with about 20 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, including purple coneflower, butterfly weed and goldenrod, which will support pollinators.

“Ox Creek does not meet state water quality standards because of sediment and flashy flows, which cause erosion and destroy habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms,” said Marcy Hamilton, senior planner/deputy executive director of the SWMPC.

“The Benton Harbor community is interested in improving Ox Creek and also improving the vitality of the retail area along Pipestone Road/Interstate 94. A rain garden not only brings beauty to an area filled with many parking lots, but also soaks water into the ground, cleanses the water and slows it down, lessening the impact to Ox Creek.”

This is the largest rain garden installed on any of the retailer’s properties, Petrovskis said. Rain gardens were previously installed at six other stores, and one more will be constructed this year at the Traverse City Meijer.

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