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Below is the Water section of the 2021 Ohio University Sustainability & Climate Action Plan. Click on the image to view a document with clickable hyperlinks.  

Water category, SCAP

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 creating 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 for storm water management 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 on Ohio University campus

McCracken 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.

a picture of the McCracken Green Roof
McCracken 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.


Green Roof Drone Image
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.

a rain garden at Ridges Cottage #38
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.

a rain garden at the Child Development Center
Photo provided by Jen Bowman, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service

Walter Fieldhouse bioretention basin

a photo of the Walter Fieldhouse bioswale

McCracken Hall bioswale

bioswale located beside of McCracken Hall parking lot
McCracken Hall bioswale, photo by Abbot Stevenson

Compost Facility cisterns (not visible; located under the Compost Facility)

Ecohouse rain barrels

Person weeding a garden in front of a rain barrel at the Ohio Ecohouse

Ohio University Golf Course rain collection pond

OHIO golf course pond

Surface water contamination from acid mine drainage - pigment production

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 see http://ruralaction.org/truepigments/.  

Person painting with acid mine paint pigment


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!