How 85,000 worms are helping vacant Detroit lots

October 5, 2015

In its effort to revitalize, Detroit is putting even worms to work.

On an east side lot last week, forestry workers with the non-profit Greening of Detroit scattered 85,000 worms onto a newly tilled vacant lot. The worms, if they do their job right, will burrow several feet into the ground, loosening up the soil and thus allowing rainwater and snowmelt to perculate down into the dirt instead of running off into nearby sewers.

The idea is to keep precipitation out of the city’s overburdened combined sewer overflow system and, in a tiny way, contribute to savings millions of dollars in big-pipe sewer infrastructure that won’t need to be built.

This single vacant lot in the 8800 block of East Forest is one of numerous pilot sites where forward-thinking Detroiters are experimenting with new uses for some of the city’s tens of thousands of vacant lots. Finding ways to keep rainwater out of sewers is just one of many new ideas for reusing vacant lots.

How 85,000 worms are helping vacant Detroit lots
John Gallagher. October 4, 2015. Detroit Free Press.