Winning projects from an annual Environmental Protection Agency competition that engages college students in on-campus green infrastructure design demonstrate the health and environmental benefits of good stormwater management.
“Campus RainWorks Challenge encourages students to transform classroom knowledge into innovative and replicable solutions,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, crediting 2019 program winners and the “hard work of all of the teams that competed.” Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution, he adds, and managing it remains a complex matter for local communities across the country.
Campus RainWorks Challenge awards $5,000 and $2,500 faculty and student team prizes. It tasks college or university participants with applying green infrastructure design principles on the quad and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration; more than 700 teams have participated since 2012. EPA invited this year’s student teams to compete in two design categories: Master Plan, examining how green infrastructure can be broadly integrated across campus; and, Demonstration Project, focusing on how green infrastructure can address stormwater pollution at a specific campus site. With the help of a faculty advisor, teams focused their expertise, creativity and energy on stormwater management challenges and showcased the environmental, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure.
Placing first and second in the 2019 Campus RainWorks Master Plan category are teams from Florida International University for “Coastal Eco-Waters: Adapting for a Resilient Campus” and University of Arizona for “Against the Grain.” First and second place Demonstration Project category teams hail from University of California at Los Angeles for “Little Steps to a Sustainable Future” and Arizona State University for “Ready! Set! Activate!” EPA also recognized Michigan State University and University of California, Berkeley teams with Master Plan and Demonstration Project honorable mentions.
EPA-cited green infrastructure tools and techniques for stormwater management include permeable pavers, pervious concrete, green roofs, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, habitat conservation, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. All decrease local waterway pollution by treating rain where it falls and keeping tainted stormwater from entering sewers. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement conveyance structures and impoundments. — www.epa.gov/campusrainworks
|The UCLA team’s “Little Steps to a Sustainable Future” scheme topped the Demonstration Project category.|
|Concrete weirs and permeable pavers attend “Architecture as Irrigation,” one component of the University of Arizona team’s “Against the Grain” scheme, which took Master Plan second place.|
TRANSPARENCY PUSH DRIVES AGENCY’S GUIDANCE DOCUMENT PROCESS REWRITE
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to establish consistent requirements for guidance document issuance. Officials envision a formal petition process for the public to request that the agency modify or withdraw such documents, and keep them accessible and transparent to the public.
“For the first time ever, EPA is proposing a rule that codifies procedures to ensure the public can engage in the development and review of agency guidance,” says Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Historically, EPA has issued many more guidance documents than most federal agencies. [This] action is a major step toward increasing transparency in processes and ensuring that EPA is not creating new regulatory obligations through guidance.”
The proposal abides President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” October 2019. It compels EPA to limit documents’ scope to clarifying existing obligations and refrain from using guidance as “a vehicle for implementing new, binding requirements on the public.”
“This is a big step toward major regulatory reform,” observes House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO-6). “EPA has been one of the most onerous regulatory agencies in the government, issuing more guidance documents than most other federal agencies. These documents are often produced without adequate public notice or input from the regulated community, conflict with one another, and get enforced based on the whims of an individual regional office. Worst of all, guidance has too often served as a Trojan Horse for backdoor regulatory efforts that go beyond the scope of Congress’ intent and existing law.”