Malletts Creek Restoration Project
Location and Description
Malletts Creek lies mostly within the City of Ann Arbor. It drains an 11 square mile watershed that includes northern Pittsfield Township, and much smaller portions of Ann Arbor, Superior, Lodi and Scio Townships. It flows into the Huron River at South Pond, next to Huron Hills Golf Course on Huron River Drive. The main tributary is approximately 4.7 miles long, but their are many tributaries and storm sewers that are connected to the channel. Click on the picture below for a full-screen map.
Malletts is a wonderful creek that beautifies many neighborhoods and City parks. Countless nature lovers take advantage of its accessibility for their daily walks, bird-watching, or simply enjoying the scenery. However, the creek flows through an urban landscape. While open space absorbs rainfall like a sponge, urban landscapes tend to drain water efficiently (storm drains, pipes gutters and ). These aerial photos illustrate the impermeability of the urban landscape.
(Before and after aerial photos)
Runoff from these impervious rooftops, streets and parking lots goes directly to the creek untreated. This is why urban creeks are susceptible to flashy flows. The toll this takes on the channel can be rather dramatic. Conversely, urban streams barely flow in late summer for lack of a steady groundwater supply. It's feast or famine.
The Malletts Creek basin is 40% impervious. As a result, it is also threatened by:
Flooding: Because much of the landscape is impermeable, in the form of concrete and rooftops, stormwater cannot infiltrate into the soil and thus, is carried quickly over land into storm drains and into the creek.
Pollution: In addition to causing flooding and erosion problems, urban stormwater runoff is the carrier of many toxic and organic pollutants to the creek. Fertilizer, yard waste, eroding soil, debris, motor oil, and other fluids that leak from your car and lawnmower are carried by runoff directly into the creek. Both toxic substances and excess organic matter - like phosphorous and nitrogen - pollute the creek and threaten the creatures that live there. Currently Malletts Creek fails to meet water quality standards due to phosphorus, E. coli and poor habitat.
Loss of habitat: Macroinvertebrate studies - or studies about the insects that live in water - done by the Huron River Watershed Council's Adopt-A-Stream program, conclude that Malletts Creek has some of the poorest habitat diversity and populations of sensitive species of all Huron River tributaries.