Gerald R. Ford Airport Keeps it Green

An aerial photo of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Stormwater/Glycol Treatment System
An aerial photo of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Stormwater/Glycol Treatment System

Winter air travel can be a hassle for everyone involved. Flights are delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, travelers escaping to warmer weather need to not only plan their wardrobe for the trip, but also for incoming weather on the return trip home, and most importantly – planes need to be taken care of!

During winter, planes need to be deiced frequently and that process can get messy for the environment. Fortunately, our local airport has a solution!

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) just recently completed a $20 million Stormwater/Glycol Treatment System, the first of its kind in the state of Michigan. The system is designed to eliminate the environmental risks from aircraft deicing procedures that are mandatory for safe winter air travel.

As part of the Airport’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit required prevention of deicing runoff caused during the winter months.

Part of the project design was to re-route the storm water from the north basin of the Airport to the Thornapple River, and re-configuring the Airport’s west apron storm water system to consolidate runoff from all aircraft deicing areas.

airport logo 2“The airport is committed to environmental stewardship and continuously improving our operations,” said GFIA Executive Director Brian Ryks. “The centerpiece of our new storm water management program is a natural treatment system that will significantly strengthen the airport’s environmental performance, protect and improve water quality in the Thornapple River, and help sustain the river system’s water quality, aquatic life and natural beauty.”

The new storm water treatment bed is an environmentally friendly design that uses gravity, vegetated beds, and natural organisms to treat the storm water with essentially no power consumption or residual waste.

For those who want to see Thornapple River kept clean, don’t worry, GFIA’s storm water management ensures the storm water reaching the river will be well within the State of Michigan’s water quality protection standards.

After serving over 2.3 million passengers last year, Michigan’s second largest airport is ready to keep up with the demand and diligent on cleaning up in a green and healthy way!



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