UConn students propose solution to fix water quality
Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 23:03
A team of UConn students has proposed a solution to the problem of rainwater runoff in South campus.
The area has higher than normal levels of erosion and inefficient water treatment, according to a story on the UConn engineering website.
This project is part of a nationwide project sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency that challenges teams of college students to work together to find solutions for problems with water quality. The EPA will select four teams as winners and give each of them money and research support to make their proposals a reality.
If the team does not win, the students hope the school will express interest in funding the project independently.
“Right now we’re just waiting to hear back if we won or not,” said Ashley Drda, a student working on the project.
The rainwater runoff in South Campus is currently handled by being captured and piped into Mirror Lake; a process the team says is not environmentally friendly or efficient at removing water. Their solution is to treat the water right in the ground in South Campus, as well as revamping the hillside to handle more runoff and decrease erosion.
Treating the water at the site of the runoff prevents contaminates from the roads near mirror lake from leeching into the water.
“Our design infiltrates the water in the ground,” said Drda.
This is accomplished by creating underground chambers and filling them with sand; keeping the water cleaner and away from phosphorous and other harmful chemicals that are found near the road. Diverting water away from Mirror Lake can also prevent the continued contamination of the lake caused by runoff.
This solution will also prevent over-saturated soil and the formation of puddles during heavy rainfall. While focusing primarily on functionality, the team hopes to create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.
However the project is about more than just a solution to runoff. The proposal includes changes that would make the area more usable, creating a natural gathering place for students where an eroded hillside now stands. The proposed plan would install stone blocks along the hillside, creating a place for students to sit in an amphitheater-like space.
This aspect of the project reflects the diversity of the team that designed the project. The team includes environmental science, environmental engineering, landscape architecture, resource economics, journalism and natural resources students, creating a wide breadth of knowledge with which to work on the project.
While repairs are being done on the south campus rain gutters, this project hopes to be a more long-term solution to the problem of soil erosion and water filtration, as well as making South Campus more pleasing to the eye.