During rainstorms, Professor Steve Rodie noticed large amounts of stormwater flowing down the sidewalk between the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center (CEC) and the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS) building – ultimately headed for the nearby storm sewer. Stormwater is often viewed as a problem, but in this case, the environmental studies professor thought it just might be an overlooked opportunity.
Stormwater runoff occurs when excess water is unable to infiltrate into the ground because of hard surfaces like concrete pavement. The runoff picks up harmful chemicals, sediment, and other debris. The water increases in speed, causing erosion when it does find its way to a stream.
Rodie, a landscape architect, previously helped design and coordinate the installation of a grant-funded bio-retention garden on the west end of campus that has thrived as a campus space for nature appreciation, student learning, biodiversity, and runoff management. Given its success, Rodie considered other areas on campus that might support a rain garden. The space between the CEC and CPACS was perfect for several reasons, including existing runoff issues, a natural overflow to the storm sewer, minimal conflicts with existing landscape plants, and very high visibility.
Students in Rodie’s Introduction to Sustainable Design Lab and Biology Independent Research classes completed concept designs in 2016 and 2017. Grant funding was successfully obtained soon after, and UNO Landscape Services prepared the area and relocated existing plants. Kinghorn Gardens, a local landscape and contracting company, helped finalize the design and installed the garden in April 2018, and the Wells Fargo Green Team has donated money for garden signage as well as time to help with planting.
The new CEC Rain Garden helps manage campus stormwater
This project reflects the type of engagement and collaboration that the CEC seeks to facilitate. UNO and community partners include the Department of Biology, the Center for Urban Sustainability,
Help Care for the CEC Rain Garden
The CEC invites the UNO community to help care for the newly installed rain garden. A low-commitment volunteer opportunity with tools and training provided.
To volunteer please contact Heike Langdon, Manager of Possibilities, at email@example.com.