The College of Engineering recently launched two stormwater management projects. Offering new opportunities for undergraduate research, Professor and Interim Chair of Civil Engineering Peter T. Weiss, Ph.D., works with students on recently installed rain gardens and a StormTree system to analyze and treat stormwater runoff. Dissolved phosphorus from engine oil, lawn fertilizer, and other sources found in stormwater runoff can increase vegetation in lakes, rivers, and streams, altering the oxygen levels and damaging the ecosystem. With these new tools, students and faculty can identify ways to treat the water and remove the damaging particles.
The StormTree System treats runoff flows from roadways, filtering the water through a proprietary mix that removes particles including some phosphorus. Students will analyze the effects of this system to determine how much phosphorus can be removed through this method.
The rain gardens project attempts to increase phosphorus removal from stormwater that enters rain gardens, which can increase phosphorus levels through the use of mulch and compost. Students and faculty will test a new design that attempts to improve performance and reduce phosphorus, resulting in less contaminated runoff.