Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

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Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2011.


Under the Clean Water Act, Philadelphia is required to reduce its Combined Sewer Overflow volume by 85% (PWD, 2009). Other cities have constructed massive underground storage tunnels to capture overflows, but the Philadelphia Water Department has proposed a plan that places a fee on impervious cover and relies heavily on green infrastructure. There is an opportunity for the University of Pennsylvania to become a model institution for stormwater management and also to save money on Philadelphia’s stormwater charge. Sporadic green infrastructure projects will have some effect, but in order to be as efficient as possible in meeting the two aforementioned goals, it is necessary to coordinate green infrastructure projects through a stormwater management plan. The University of Pennsylvania is in the process of developing such a plan. This study describes the current stormwater management efforts being made at the University of Pennsylvania and examines the efforts of other universities in developing their own stormwater management plans, with the goal of gleaning innovative practices that can be recreated at other universities. While it is too early to determine which stormwater plans have achieved long-term success, a survey given to nine universities reveals common themes between plans. A common framework for a campus stormwater management plan was found to take inventory of existing infrastructure and campus conditions, develop a list of acceptable best management practices, develop an educational and outreach component, and develop an operation and maintenance v schedule for green infrastructure technologies. The most innovative plan in the study belongs to the Georgia Institute of Technology, which creates an Eco-Commons corridor on the most ecologically sensitive parts of campus, in which development is severely limited. Stormwater goals are met by using a regional approach, as opposed to a project-by-project approach, increasing the flexibility of new development on campus. Villanova University has also developed an excellent BMP research park, which also serves as an outreach component. The University of Pennsylvania should develop a plan that considers emulating these innovative practices and adding them to the common framework.



Date Posted: 29 November 2011