The role of the Stormwater Task Force is to provide informed and thoughtful guidance on the sustainable management of stormwater to the Environmental Impact workgroup of the UVA Presidents Level Sustainability Committee. As the stormwater runoff flows over the parking lots, it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that can adversely affect water quality. Members are given the opportunity and resources to investigate and recommend stormwater practices that will reduce UVA’s impacts on our local streams, rivers and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The following pilot projects are just a few ways this task force hopes to obtain these goals.
The Dawson’s Row area is located at the downhill end of the Clark Hall parking lot. As such, it receives much of the surface runoff from the impervious pavement. Upon flowing off of the parking lot into the Dawson’s Row area, the runoff is virtually unable to infiltrate into the ground in this area due to the high level of soil compaction. The foremost impact of the high levels of surface runoff in the area is erosion.
Carr’s Hill Field Stream Buffer
In 2013, an area next to Carr’s Hill Field was renovated in order to daylight a stream that previously ran underground in pipes. The Stormwater Task Force helped UVa Facilities Management department plant about 1,000 plants to create buffer for the stream. Vegetative stream buffers help slow down and filter stormwater runoff to protect water quality, prevent erosion, and provides shade and habitat for fish and other aquatic life. View our Flickr page to see pictures of the event!
Clark Hall Courtyard
The empty space on the east side of Clark Hall is now being redesigned to not only more adequately address stormwater management, but to also increase the usefulness of this small space. For this space, the landscape architecture company Dewberry has already completed preliminary surveys and planning. As of this writing, all signs point to the reconstruction of Clark Hall Nook to move forward within the year! Students on the taskforce will be able to sit in on planning meetings and observe construction.
This past Fall, three students from the taskforce took on the huge mission of documenting all downspouts across grounds. A downspout is a vertical pipe used to drain rainwater from a roof. They are usually directed onto a paved surface such as a driveway or directly in the storm drain system. When a downspout is ‘disconnected’ the downspout and gutters remain in place. The only difference is at the base. The downspout is cut and an additional piece of pipe is attached to the remaining length of downspout. This new length of pipe carries the water a safe distance from the house where it can seep into the ground. Disconnecting downspouts helps to decrease the amount of polluted runoff that enters our streams and limit stream erosion. This project requires our students to walk around every building and mark on maps where any downspout is visible. Once the surveying is completed, the data will be incorporated into a GIS file and included in the University’s building management database. Though not all downspouts will be disconnected, documenting the locations of possible sites is the first major step in the process. Many cities across the country, including Chicago, Seattle, and Baltimore, have downspout disconnect programs that provide incentives and help for residents in this process.
Outreach, Education, and Awareness
Our major project moving forward is to increase our outreach on grounds. This website is an early endeavor for that cause. We hope to not only increase awareness of stormwater issues, but also provide opportunities for students to get involved in improving not only the university’s stormwater management, but their personal stormwater impact as well. We plan on having representatives at the Sustainability Week and World Water Day events on grounds. We hope to have stream clean-ups for students to get their hands dirty cleaning up our local water resources. We also hope to increase signage around grounds to promote BMP’s and stormwater issues. We have already created some bus ads that we hope to finalize and display fairly soon. Basically, there’s a long list of ideas we have, and this upcoming semester we hope to implement as many of them as possible!