Although water conservation and water quality are vital issues for a sustainable world, the current version of the Ohio University Sustainability Plan only has 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). 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.
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 Cliff Hamilton, Environmental Engineer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-593-1663.
Additional information for stormwater or other compliance-related program can be found on the Environmental Health & Safety website.
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
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 Roof soon after planting, July 2020 (photo credit, Kim Thompson)
Jefferson Hall underground parking garage green roof
Ridges duplex rental property rain garden
Child Development Center rain garden
Walter Fieldhouse bioretention basin
McCracken Hall bioswale
Compost Facility cisterns
Ecohouse rain barrels
Ohio University Golf Course rain collection pond
Acid mine drainage
Acid mine drainage is a serious issue in Appalachia where coal production is prominent. To learn about an exciting initiative by Ohio University researchers to create pigments while cleaning a local stream, here's an article in Perspectives.
The Ecohouse utilizes a number of water conservation efforts, including rain water sequestration and water efficient appliances. Click here to learn more!