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The Hocking River near the Richland Avenue bridge.
Sustainable Infrastructure Hub: Water

Sustainable Infrastructure Hub: Water

 

Pollution Prevention Week Image

Waterways in Athens, Ohio, and the larger Appalachian area, have been severely impacted by historic coal mining in the region. Recognizing this, Ohio University is dedicated to protecting and improving waterways and promoting the sustainable use of our water resources in the University’s operations. Faculty and staff at many colleges across the University perform significant research and remediation efforts in the watersheds surrounding Ohio University’s campus. The Office of Sustainability is committed to promoting initiatives that reduce impacts from stormwater and reduce potable water usage for irrigation of grounds. Ohio University celebrates the US EPA’s Pollution Prevention Week during the third week in September each year to raise awareness of the importance of minimizing pollution discharges into the Hocking River.

 

Sustainability Project Lab Logo

 

The Sustainability Project Laboratory is a database of sustainability-related project proposals. This resource hosts projects and project ideas that can be adopted by faculty, staff, and students for course projects, capstone or senior projects, theses, and more.

To find water related projects just type "water" into the search bar at the top of the database, or click the Sustainability Project Laboratory icon to the right.   

How We Are Doing

Athens Campus Water Consumption Profile

2021 Initiatives

Infrastructure Hub Supported Initiatives Goals SCAP Alignment
Sustainability Project Laboratory:  
Website of sustainability projects developed for curricular purposes 
Increase access to experiential learning and sustainability projects.   Increase faculty, student, and community engagement across all hub themes. 
Triple Bottom Line Cost Benefit Analysis (TBL CBA) Tool:  
Framework for assessing sustainability impacts. 
Create a tool to evaluate the impacts of projects across all hub themes on campus.  Communication and decision-making tool for use in all hub themes. 
Water Usage: 
EcoChallenge project on preventing leaks 
Reduce water consumption by using a water leak detection system  Reduce potable water usage and water use for irrigation 
Storm water management program:  
Joint program with City of Athens for EPA storm water permit 
Reduce storm water runoff and pollution. Maintain EPA permit requirements.  Reduce impacts from storm water 

 

Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Related Initiatives SCAP Alignment
Lausche Plant water conservation: (Heating plant) 
Water treatment to reuse condensate 
Reduce potable water usage and water use for irrigation  

2020 Initiatives

Infrastructure Hub Supported Initiatives Goals SCAP Alignment
Sustainable Project Laboratory:  
Website of sustainability projects developed for curricular purposes 
Increase access to experiential learning and sustainability projects  Increase faculty, student, and community engagement across all hub themes 
Triple Bottom Line Cost Benefit Analysis (TBL CBA) Tool:  
Framework for assessing sustainability impacts 
Create a tool to evaluate the impacts of projects across all hub themes on campus  Communication and decision-making tool for use in all hub themes. 
Storm water management program:  
Joint program with City of Athens for EPA storm water permit 
Reduce storm water runoff and pollution; Maintain EPA permit requirements  Reduce impacts from storm water  
Green roof:  
Installation on Schoonover Center 
Involve students in experiential learning.; Improve energy efficiency and storm water retention  Reduce impacts from storm water; Operate and maintain existing buildings to reduce impacts 

 

Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Related Initiatives SCAP Alignment
Lausche Plant water conservation (Heating plant): 
Water treatment to reuse condensate. 
Reduce potable water usage and water use for irrigation  
Active Treatment of Mining Wastewater for Pigment Production (Russ College of Engineering): 
Patent and grant-funded research by Professors Guy Riefler and John Sabraw 
Work with communities to protect ground water quality and surface waters; Increase purchasing of sustainable and/or recycled products across a range of categories 

2019 Initiatives

Infrastructure Hub Supported Initiatives Goals SCAP Alignment
Sustainable Project Laboratory:  
Website of sustainability projects developed for curricular purposes 
Increase access to experiential learning and sustainability projects.   Increase faculty, student, and community engagement across all hub themes. 
Triple Bottom Line Cost Benefit Analysis (TBL CBA) Tool:  
Framework for assessing sustainability impacts. 
Create a tool to evaluate the impacts of projects across all hub themes on campus.  Communication and decision-making tool for use in all hub themes.  
Maintain water infrastructure: 
EcoChallenge project on using groundwater to reduce potable water use in irrigation. 
Reduce water consumption on campus landscaping.  Reduce potable water usage and water use for irrigation  
Storm water management program:  
Joint program with City of Athens for EPA storm water permit 
Reduce storm water runoff and pollution. Maintain EPA permit requirements.  Reduce impacts from storm water  
Green roof:  
Installation on Schoonover Center. 
Involve students in experiential learning. Improve energy efficiency and storm water retention.  Reduce impacts from storm water; Maintain and operate existing buildings to reduce impacts 

 

Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Related Initiatives SCAP Alignment
Lausche Plant water conservation: (Heating plant) 
Water treatment to reuse condensate 
Reduce potable water usage and water use for irrigation  

 

Stormwater Management

Although water conservation and water quality are vital issues for a sustainable world, the 2011 version of the Ohio University Sustainability Plan only had two goals related to water: Benchmark 13 (Prohibit the installation of permanent irrigation systems that rely on potable water), and Benchmark 17 (Institute storm water management plan).  The draft 2021 Ohio University Sustainability & Climate Action Plan has a more robust set of goals, targets and proposed strategies. 

For tips on some simple ways to reduce your water usage, check out our sustainability tips.


Permanent potable water irrigation system installation prohibition

Ohio University no longer (since around 2013) installs permanent potable water irrigation systems when constructing new buildings on campus. Instead, ground keepers focus on landscaping using plants which are native to Southeastern Ohio. Native plants do not routinely require additional watering once they are established.


Stormwater management

The University and the City of Athens have linked municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4). In December, 2016, the Ohio EPA sent notification to the City of Athens that it was required to apply for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for its MS4. The University and the City wrote and approved a joint stormwater management program (PDF) in June, 2017, which addresses the 6 minimum control measures (MCMs) of the MS4 stormwater plan requirements.

One of these MCMs is Public Education and Outreach. As a component of the Public Education and Outreach MCM, the Athens County Soil and Water Conservation District (ASWCD) has created a stormwater webpage. As another component of the Public Education and Outreach MCM, the University, the City of Athens, and the Athens Soil and Water Conservation District hosts Pollution Prevention Week on the third week in September each year.

If you have questions, concerns, comments or complaints regarding stormwater, please contact Nathan Rath, Hazardous Materials Program Manager at rathn@ohio.edu.

Additional information for stormwater or other compliance-related program can be found on the Environmental Health & Safety website.

Pollution Prevention Week banner

Updates on the MS4 permit status for Ohio University will be posted on this page.

One of the reasons proper storm water management is needed is to reduce flooding in local streams and waterways. Learn about the flooding history of Athens, OH and the Hocking River channelization project in this Athens News article.

Green Infrastructure

Patton Hall Green Roof

Ohio University’s first green roof, installed in 2016, covers 2,000 square feet.  Tightly fitting plastic trays contain 16 varieties of low-growing sedums, one thyme and one allium species in six inches of planting medium. The planting medium is an engineered soil that is light weight and well-draining. The roof uses rainfall to conserve water and sustain plant life.

Patton Hall Green Roof, 2020

Patton Hall Green Roof, 2020


Schoonover Center Green Roof

The Green Roof on Schoonover was designed to engage students, faculty and the community in our sustainability mission. Schoonover renovations completed in 2013 included a rooftop that could support vegetation but the design and installation of the green roof was led by an interdisciplinary group of faculty. They acquired funding through the Academic Innovation Accelerator to create an educational landscape that offers opportunities for a variety of projects including educational outreach and creating virtual experiences on the rooftop. Faculty have been guiding graduate and undergraduate students in developing research and design projects in science, engineering and communications. The rooftop itself is about 2500 square feet of which almost 1,000 was seeded with a meadow mix. Equipment occupies some of the space to enable us to evaluate the impact of the green roof on stormwater runoff, water quality, carbon exchange, temperature and air quality.  Students are measuring plant, arthropod and soil microbial diversity in separate projects and comparing the Schoonover site to native plant gardens and other green roofs.

Schoonover Center Green Roof

Schoonover Green Roof, Fall 2020


Jefferson Hall Underground Parking Garage Green Roof


Ridges Cottage #38 Rain Garden

The rain garden at Ridges Cottage BLDG 38 was planned and installed by undergraduate student Emily Schafer 2016-2017, under supervision of Amy Mackey, Voinovich School Project Manager and Raccoon Creek Watershed Coordinator, funded by OEPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant as part of the Appalachian Ohio Clean Watershed Initiative project.  The purpose of the rain garden is to be used as a demonstration site.  Emily produced materials that would help landowners site, plan, and build their own rain garden at their home. Plants purchased from Companion Plants: White Baptisia, Milkweed, Munsted plant, Coneflower, Culver’s Root, Red Lobelia, and Dwarf Crested Iris.

Ridges Cottage #38 rain garden

Photo provided by Jen Bowman, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service


Child Development Center Rain Garden

The Child Development Center rain garden was planned and installed by graduate student Jennie Brancho 2018 under supervision of Nicole Kirchner, Voinovich School Project Manager. The project was funded by OEPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant as part of the Appalachian Ohio Clean Watershed Initiative project.  This rain garden diverts a portion of rainwater from the front part of the CDC roof into the garden. The plants utilized in the garden were selected for environmental and educational benefits for the pre-school students to explore by site, smell, and tactile qualities. Lydia Ramlo (2020) conducted a Honors Tutorial undergraduate research thesis on the rain garden, looking at infiltration rates with Dr. Guy Riefler.

Child Development Center rain garden

Photo provided by Jen Bowman, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service


Walter Fieldhouse Bioretention Basin

Walter Fieldhouse bioretention basin

 


Patton Hall Bioswale

Patton Hall bioswale

Patton Hall bioswale, photo by Abbot Stevenson


Ecohouse Rain Barrels

Ecohouse rain barrels

 


Ohio University Golf Course Rain Collection Pond

Ohio University Golf Course rain collection pond

 


Pigment Production from Acid Mine Drainage

Acid mine drainage is a serious issue in Appalachian coal country.  Fortunately, two Ohio University researchers, Guy Riefler (Civil Engineering) and John Sabraw (Art) have partnered with Michelle Shively at Rural Action to develop a process for turning acid mine drainage into a positive for the region.  For more information visit True Pigments

 

Surface water contamination from acid mine drainage - pigment production

The Ecohouse utilizes a number of water conservation efforts, including rain water sequestration and water efficient appliances. Visit the House Features section of the Ecohouse website to learn more!

Ohio University Experts

Name:  Contact:  Description:
Jesús Pagán paganj@ohio.edu Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Coordinator
Amy Lynch lyncha@ohio.edu 
 
Environmental planning practices; stormwater management; active transportation
Amy Mackey
mackey@ohio.edu
Biodiversity and biological health of streams; watershed management
 
Daniel Che  che@ohio.edu Optimization models for sustainable water resources solutions in urban areas
Gregory Springer springeg@ohio.edu  Headwater streams
Jen Bowman  bowmanj2@ohio.edu Biodiversity and biological health of streams; watershed management
Kelly Johnson johnsok3@ohio.edu Biological health of streams
Morgan Vis-Chiasson vis-chia@ohio.edu Acid mine drainage, algae, stream nutrients, water pollution, and the effects of acid mine drainage on biodiversity
Nora Sullivan  sullivn1@ohio.edu  Conservation; water quality 
R. Guy Riefler  riefler@ohio.edu  Sustainable water treatment
Tiao Chang chang@ohio.edu  Riverine water quality; hydrology and hydraulics
Xizchen Schenk  xschenk@ohio.edu Hydrology; climate variation on surface water and groundwater quality, quantity, and sustainability using field and numerical approaches
Eung Lee leee1@ohio.edu Contaminant hydrogeology; environmental monitoring and restoration
Natalie Kruse-Daniels krusen@ohio.edu Oil and gas pollution detection and remediation; stream chemistry
Lei Wu wu1@ohio.edu PFAS remediation in ground water; reuse of waste tires 
Elaine Goetz goetze@ohio.edu Director of Energy Management & Sustainability; Director of Sustainability

Other Stakeholders & Experts

Name: Contact: Description:
Rural Action https://ruralaction.org/our-work/watersheds/ A nonprofit that focuses on public and environmental enrichment projects in Appalachian Ohio 
True Pigments https://www.truepigments.com/get-to-know-us/contact-us A social enterprise that remediates polluted water by turning acid mine drainage into paint pigments

 

Water- Related Benefits of Green Roofs 

What Are Green Roofs?

A green roof is designed to hold soil and plants while still protecting the building. Rooftops take up a lot of space in cities and urbanized areas. The health and quality of our environments are impacted when sun and rain interact with a roof. The type of materials on top of a building can greatly effect its sustainability or its ability to be maintained over time while avoiding consumption of natural resources. Green roofs are more sustainable and help us maintain ecological balance.

Traditional rooftops are made of hard, impermeable, dark materials which absorb sunlight and heat up surrounding areas. Increases in air temperature in an area with many unplanted surfaces is called the “Urban Heat Island Effect.” Impermeable surfaces lead to rapid stormwater runoff, contributing to water pollution and a higher likelihood of flooding. Green roofs offer solutions to these problems and make buildings more sustainable.

Green roofs are a type of green infrastructure, used to prevent, slow, or store stormwater runoff. While green roofs have a higher initial cost and require more maintenance, they result in long-term savings. The type of green roof (intensive or extensive) depends on the design of the structure and how much weight it can support.

Intensive Green Roofs:
• Flat rooftops
• Heavier with deeper planting depths
• Greater variety of plants, herbs to trees
Extensive Green Roofs:
• Flat and sloped rooftops
• Lighter-weight with less growing media
• Drought-tolerant, shorter plants 

Estimating the environmental effects of green roofs

A comparison of green and traditional rooftops (Source: EPA, 2018)

Find a pdf containing this information here

What Are the Water-Related Benefits of Green Roofs?

  • Reduces the amount of rainwater washing into the sewers from the rooftops, lowering the chance of flooding.
  • Reduces temperatures of the roof, the building, and urban heat islands.
  • Reduces energy consumption in the building due to cooling and insulating effects.
  • Fosters biodiversity and expands natural habitat for birds and insects.
  • Lowers UV damage on buildings through shading, extending lifespans of rooftops.
  • Removes CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and curtailing climate change.
  • Improves aesthetics of building and cities.
  • May enhance air quality through collection of particulate matter by plants.
  • Provides opportunities for urban agriculture
  • Improves acoustics on upper floors through insulation.
  • Generates jobs and economic development

How Are Green Roofs Incorporated Into OHIO’s Sustainability Plan?

Ohio University Sustainability Plan

• Citizenship: Ohio University will promote and enhance ecological citizenship as expressed through literacy, engagement and sense of place.

• Stewardship: Ohio University’s campus and operations will be grounded in ecological stewardship and will support healthy and diverse ecosystems.

• Justice: All members of the Ohio University community will have equitable access to and responsibility for environmental amenities and dis-amenities.

Ohio University Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure improves stormwater management and includes tree plantings, green roofs, bioswales (raingardens), permeable pavement, and rain barrels.

• Green roofs are located on Schoonover Center, McCracken Hall, over the Edwards Accelerator, and behind Jefferson Hall covering a utility tunnel.

• Green infrastructure contributes to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, achieved by McCracken Hall (LEED Gold) and other campus buildings.

• Ohio University also has raingardens, rain barrels, and has been named a Tree Campus USA since 2016. Find a full list of all green infrastructure on campus on the Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Water page.

How Can I Learn More About Green Roofs?