University Allotted Stimulus Funding to Reduce Stormwater Runoff

Dr. Robert Traver, Professor and Director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership

On July 21, Governor Edward Rendell announced that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would be investing $355 million in 111 green infrastructure, wastewater, and drinking-water projects in 47 counties. As part of that investment, Villanova University has received a $134,750 grant to disconnect campus-building downspouts, thus reducing the amount of stormwater runoff that drains annually into the Darby Creek watershed by 85,000 cubic feet.

According to Dr. Robert Traver, PE, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (VUSP), “The project represents yet another effort by the College of Engineering and the Facilities Management Office to reduce the University’s stormwater footprint and to support our sustainability mission.”

Dr. Traver and Charles Leeds, Villanova’s Horticultural Supervisor, collaborated to apply for the funding and to develop the details of the three-month project. It will involve the disconnecting of downspouts on campus buildings not slated for renovation under the Campus Master Plan, including John Barry Hall and buildings near the intersection of routes 320 and 30.

Currently, stormwater runs down the rooftops of campus buildings, picking up debris and other pollutants, and is channeled via downspouts into storm sewers. Eventually, the stormwater discharges into the Darby Creek watershed, where it contributes to pollution, erosion, and flooding.

Under the new plan, the water will instead be collected in rain barrels and used to create rain gardens. Because the water will be soaking back into the ground, the process will mitigate the damage from urban stormwater runoff. It also will help beautify the campus.

“It comes down to using the water as a resource,” Dr. Traver said. “We’re trying to provide a good example for others to follow.” In addition, the project will create job opportunities for external contractors—one of the key goals of the stimulus money.