Archived News Release: May 2, 2023 - The City of Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioners Office have received the American Society of Civil Engineers “Michigan Section Quality of Life Award" for recent work to improve Benz Creek, which flows through the Huron Hills Golf Course.
Benz Creek starts above the golf course, then flows through 8 fairways, on its way to the Huron River. The creek was named after the family that donated land to the City for the Golf Course nearly 100 years ago.
Growth and development around the golf course happened over time, but pre-dated stormwater management requirements. As a result, the creek straightened, deepened and became disconnected from its the floodplain. The course itself was subject to periodic flooding that would temporarily shut down play on both the front and back.
Working with an Engineering Consultant, Hubbell, Roth, and Clark, Inc., the City and County planned a holistic improvement project that would create a meandering stream through restored wetlands, improvements to water quality and more diverse habitat. Construction began in September 2020 and was completed in June 2021. The project took place in two phases. Phase 1 was the construction of bioretention ponds (big rain gardens) and a low flow channel on the back eleven holes. Phase 2 was the relocation and restoration of 970 feet of stream on the front seven holes with 1.5 acres of wetland restoration. This stepwise approach allowed play to continue throughout the project with minimal impacts to golfers. The construction cost was $1.22 million.
The goals of this project were to fix flooding issues and improve water quality. The unique design addressed the flooding problem while adding features that improved wetland habitat and flood conveyance capacity. These developments enhanced the design and playability while reducing rain shut down events on the golf course.
The water quality outcomes include an annual TSS reduction of over 33,000 pounds, phosphorus by over 70 pounds, and reduction of E. coli colonies in the trillions, with fewer geese in and around the creek! In addition, the project created an ecologically diverse and resilient natural habitat corridor while improving the current flood conveyance. The improvements help prevent flood-related shutdowns and add beauty to this public golf course.
The Huron Hills Golf Course is a test for golfers of all skill levels and is a popular and convenient course for locals to play. Prior to the project, large rain events would flood holes and limit play, depriving the golfers of the course's full experience. The project brought relief to these issues by using water to help improve the layout, playability and challenge of each of the 8 holes. It looks nicer, plays better and protects the river.
The golf course boasts great views of the Huron River which outlets Benz Creek. Creating water quality measures on the course helps ensure that future generations will experience the course in its full beauty just as past generations have.
The Huron River also supplies 85% of Ann Arbor's drinking water and countless recreation opportunities from Barton Pond to Gallop Park. The Huron River plays an integral role in the lives of most community members, from turning on the sink for a glass of water to kayaking down the river. Therefore, clean water is an essential component to Quality of Life.
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