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U Of I Students Win EPA Contest For Storm Water Pollution Solution

The Boneyard Creek running through the University of Illinois Urbana campus

The Boneyard Creek running through the University of Illinois Urbana campus. A group of U of I students is attempting to prevent polluted storm water from running into the Boneyard. stantontcady/Flickr/(CC BY-ND 2.0)

A team of University of Illinois students has come up with a solution to help prevent storm water pollution on campus. Their design just won first place in a national EPA Campus RainWater Challenge.

Jessica Wiegand is one of 13 students that worked on the project known as 'Campus Hydro Redesigned.'

The College of Engineering senior says storm water often becomes polluted when it comes into contact with cement.

She says that polluted water flows from parking lots into sewers--which could make its way into the Boneyard Creek and other local waterways.

“If we add green infrastructure then that’ll help infiltrate it and then give some pollutant control before it goes into the Boneyard Creek," Wiegand said. The design would also help reduce storm water runoff and alleviate flooding.

Arthur Schmidt is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering--and one of the advisers for the team. He says their project benefitted from the team’s academic diversity.

“Early on we talked, and everything was focused on the functionality, and how do we deal with the water, and how much water and how large," said Schmidt. "But the other students and advisors from other departments brought in a lot of other aspects.”

Schmidt says his team also considered the design’s aesthetics, how well it fits into the campus, and how different social groups may respond to the project.

Both Wiegand and Schmidt’s comments came during an appearance on the 21st show.

You can learn more about their presentation below: