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EPA Honors Kansas State University Student and Faculty Team

Release Date: 04/22/2013
Contact Information: Kris Lancaster, 913-551-7557, lancaster.kris@epa.gov

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Lenexa, Kan., April 22, 2013) - EPA announced today that Kansas State University (KSU), Manhattan, Kan., was awarded honorable mention among larger institutions in EPA’s first-ever Campus RainWorks Challenge competition.

Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and contributing to downstream flooding.

“EPA is committed to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for reducing stormwater pollution,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “Through these kinds of programs, we hope to inspire landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure systems that improve water quality.”

The Campus RainWorks Challenge engages students and faculty members at colleges and universities to apply green infrastructure principles and design, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on campuses across the nation. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students, working with a faculty advisor, developed innovative green infrastructure designs for a site on their campus showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the campus community and environment.

The goal of the KSU team’s plan was to modify the existing master plan to improve stormwater management; reduce flood frequency and improve water quality in Campus Creek and a creek that flows through the core of campus; and provide a garden for students, alumni, and community members that is representative of a native wetland prairie ecosystem.

The team’s design plan centers on a site directly north of the KSU Gardens, a display garden that serves as an educational resource for the university and residents of Manhattan. The current campus master plan calls for a series of ponds north of KSU Gardens, but does not address stormwater runoff from the 262 acres that drain into the site. The team’s plan proposes a series of wetlands, prairie uplands, and ponds. The plan also incorporates an amphitheater and covered picnic area to create a new campus gathering space.

The team’s plan was unique among the entries received in restoring the prairie ecosystem native to the region. The area around the ponds would be planted with native wetland and prairie plants, allowing the site to support native songbirds and pollinators and to serve as an outdoor classroom for the university and the greater Manhattan area.

The university team was comprised of six students from the departments of Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Agronomy and Biology.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge received submissions from 218 teams, which were reviewed by more than 30 expert judges from EPA, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Water Environment Federation, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Green infrastructure helps communities to maintain healthy waters, support sustainable communities, and provide multiple environmental benefits. Green infrastructure captures and filters pollutants by passing stormwater through soils and retaining it on site. Examples of effective green infrastructure include green roofs, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.

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More information on the Campus RainWorks Program

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