City of Ann Arbor

Raising Public Awareness of the Stormwater Ecosytem

Ann Arbor, Michigan — a city of more than 120,000 residents — is home to the University of Michigan. The city has a total area of 28.7 square miles of land and 0.87 square miles of water, much of which is part of the Huron River.

The Challenge

Quality of Stormwater Runoff

Ann Arbor receives 57 inches of snow and 38 inches of rain annually on average. All stormwater is directed into the Huron River and its tributaries, where both the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff can negatively impact local water resources that provide drinking water, recreation and wildlife habitat.

To manage the enormous volume of annual stormwater runoff, the city has over 540 miles of stormwater conveyance and more than 23,000 inlets and catch basins. This critical infrastructure largely goes unnoticed by the public and that creates a problem. Residents were not aware of how their collective behaviors — from the dumping of used oil and grease to littering — directly impacted the quality of the stormwater runoff.

The Solution

Stormwater SmA2rt Campaign

Hahn Public was hired to highlight how the city was successfully managing stormwater runoff and what residents could do to improve water quality.

Our team conducted resident research, focus groups and a message workshop with key stakeholders and city leaders. This background information provided insights that led to the creation of a campaign called Stormwater SmA2rt, with the A2 substituting for the city’s name. Stormwater SmA2rt showcased the smart things the city was doing to protect the regional water system and asked residents think about what they could do to support clean water in the Huron River basin.

The Hahn Public creative team designed a series of brand assets including logos, animations, posters and both transit ads and digital/social content for the stormwater campaign to educate the public on facts like:

An average of 57 inches of annual snow falls on Ann Arbor every year — and 15,000 storm drains help steer it in the right direction once it melts.

An average of 38 inches of annual rain is diverted into the city’s 70 rain gardens.

541 miles of catchment infrastructure — from pipelines to channels — are engineered to keep Ann Arbor from flooding.

Facebook Ads

The Results

Awareness Translates to Attitudes

The city’s campaign garnered over 46,000 social impressions, 750 engagements and over 10,000 video views in three months. Customer awareness and understanding of local stormwater issues increased substantially as measured through qualitative feedback, and positive news coverage demonstrated a shift in public attitudes. This campaign shows how even with a limited budget and in a limited amount of time, public awareness can lead to public understanding and attitude change.

46000 +

Social Impressions



10000 +

Video Views