Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Feature: Thaddeus Stevens Students Build Rain Garden On Campus In Lancaster

The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology’s Water & Environmental Program received a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to design and create a rain garden demonstration project.
The objective of the Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Rain Garden Demonstration project was to provide students enrolled in the Water & Environmental Technology program at Thaddeus Stevens College with a meaningful watershed educational experience.
Students were able to identify an area on Campus where stormwater management was a problem, propose a solution, complete a detailed design, and follow through with construction.
The Stevensonians faced some challenges along the way.
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology campus is located within the City of Lancaster. Like many historic cities, areas of the City are serviced by a combined sewer system.
During heavy rainstorms, the system is unable to handle the flow volumes and the system overflows, releasing untreated water directly to local waterways.
It is estimated that the City of Lancaster’s combined system releases about 1 billion gallons of polluted water each year. Since the College has no stormwater management facility, it is a contributor to the City’s combined sewer overflow problems.
The Water and Environmental Technology program at TSCT prepares students for work as water quality professionals in drinking and wastewater facilities. An important part of this is ensuring they have an understanding of the impacts of stormwater runoff, and stormwater mitigation techniques.
TSCT’s WET students designed, constructed and will maintain a green infrastructure project covering an estimated 395 sq. ft. in a high-visibility area.
The project will result in the infiltration of an estimated nearly 50,000 gallons of stormwater runoff per year, and provide a hands-on watershed education experience for current and future WET students.
As of Monday, April 30th, 2018, the WET students can take a breath of fresh air and a step back to enjoy the fruition of their hard work.
“Constructing the rain garden has been an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience.  The students identified the problem, secured grant funding, and followed through construction," says Katie Surra, Water & Environmental Professor. "Through this process the students gained practical knowledge and hands-on skills that they would not have been able to acquire in the classroom.”
The rain garden was planted exclusively with native plant species and is designed to manage runoff from approximately 1,750 square feet of roof area.
Students gained a deeper knowledge of green infrastructure practices through involvement in every aspect of the design and construction process including drainage area delineation, infiltration testing, soil testing, and construction.
Future classes of WET students will continue to benefit from the project through the development and implementation of a maintenance plan.
To date, more than 200 middle and high school age students have been exposed to the project through Campus tours. This number will continue to grow as additional student groups visit the site.
You can see the rain garden right in front of the Jones Dining Hall or on the side of the Mellor Building.
Click Here to see photos as the rain garden was being built.
This project was supported by an Environmental Education Grant from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Lancaster County Conservancy Water Week program.
The City of Lancaster was a key partner in completing this project, providing support and guidance throughout design and construction.
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology's Water & Environmental Technology Program is Pennsylvania’s only accredited Associate's Degree program in this field.
Visit the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology’s Water & Environmental Technology Program webpage to learn more.  Questions can be directed to: Marketing@StevensCollege.edu.
Click Here to learn how you can create your own rain garden from the PA Environmental Council.
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(Reprinted from the Thaddeus Stevens website.)

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