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Making Rain Work at the Heart of Campus

by Brittanie Carter, Utah Water Research Laboratory 

landscape rendition

The U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) announced that a group of students from Utah State University have won third place in the annual Campus RainWorks Challenge. The group competed against 39 other teams from across the nation.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that engages the next generation of environmental professionals. It challenges students at American universities and colleges to propose an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that manages stormwater pollution and provides additional benefits to the community and school.

USU’s entry was created by an interdisciplinary group of students from the departments of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (LAEP), and Civil and Environmental Engineering: Dallen Webster, Briana Kistler, Avery Holyoak, Dani Delahoz, Sarah Tooley, Josh Quigley, Nicholas LeSchofs, Kali Clarke and Chris Brown. Their faculty advisor, Jake Powell, is an LAEP assistant professor and they worked closely with professors Ryan Dupont, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Nancy Mesner, Department of Watershed Sciences.

The project, “A New Heart,” proposed a concept plan to make Aggie Boulevard the new heart of campus by converting the road into a permeable plaza featuring storm water treatment areas running the length of the project. The project focused on reducing stormwater flows and addressing the division 700 North creates on campus. The project balanced pedestrian and bicycle transportation routes, open space needs, and existing transportation routes. Their design aims to recharge groundwater with treated runoff, reduce areas of impermeable surfaces, meet requirements of local municipalities, and eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation in climate where water is in short supply by emphasizing native landscaping and ultimately creating a new campus gathering place with green infrastructure at its heart.

“I think this recognition only highlights the top tier, nationally competitive talent and skills of our students at Utah State University,” Powell said. “This student team showcases the best of what an interdisciplinary group can accomplish when they bring big ideas, hard work, and a tremendous skill set to bear on a complex project. This team’s competition entry was completed entirely by a team of volunteer students, faculty and staff – in their free time, after hours and during weekends. I can’t say enough about the students, our university partners and other faculty member who assisted this team. Everyone really went the extra mile to make the project stand out.”

To view the team’s video presentation online, visit