Reinventing Malletts Creek
Mead's legacy is a transformed waterway. "We have taken ditches and turned them back into something more resembling natural streams, and re-made the connections to nearby floodplains," Harry Sheehan, environmental manager for Washtenaw County's Water Resources Department, explains in an email. "Now we have channels that are sized for the job we ask of it (flood conveyance) and are big enough to have turns, eddies, grade drops, pool and riffles that provide more stable habitat--AND improve water quality."
At eleven square miles, the Malletts Creek watershed covers nearly 40 percent of Ann Arbor plus parts of Scio, Lodi, Pittsfield, Superior, and Ann Arbor townships. Its main stem runs from the Dicken neighborhood north of Scio Church to the Huron River at Huron Hills Golf Course. Tributaries and storm sewers flow into it from as far south as the Ann Arbor Airport and as far north as the corner of Washtenaw and South University.
But that watershed isn't what it used to be. "We've changed the landscape," says Sheehan in a phone interview. "With the development over the last forty or so years, the area's about 40 percent impervious now," and those roofs and parking lots shed rainwater once absorbed by trees and fields. That's made Malletts "a flashy creek."