EPA's 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge

Venture Smarter in the Campus RainWorks Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water is pleased to announce the 7th annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition that is open to colleges and universities in the United States and its territories. Through the Campus RainWorks Challenge, EPA seeks to engage with undergraduate and graduate students to foster a dialogue about responsible stormwater management and showcase the environmental, economic and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

Stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution in urban communities across the United States. Traditionally, stormwater is drained through engineered collection systems, or “gray infrastructure,” and discharged into nearby waterbodies. Stormwater doesn’t like to travel alone:  as it moves through the landscape it captures and carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants from the urban environment. These contaminants degrade water quality and threaten public health. High stormwater flows also cause erosion and flooding, damaging habitat, property, and infrastructure. Green infrastructure offers flexible solutions for managing stormwater runoff.

The term “green infrastructure” refers to a variety of practices that restore or mimic natural hydrological processes. While “gray” stormwater infrastructure is largely designed to convey stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure uses soils, vegetation and other media to manage rainwater where it falls through capture and evapotranspiration. By integrating natural processes into the built environment, green infrastructure provides a wide variety of community benefits, including improving water and air quality, reducing urban heat island effects, creating habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, and providing aesthetic and recreational value. Green infrastructure solutions can also be cheaper to install and maintain than traditional gray infrastructure.

Water pollution associated with stormwater runoff is a problem that is growing in scope and magnitude. Communities need planners, designers, engineers, and other professionals to create dynamic, resilient, and affordable solutions for stormwater management. Today’s scholars are tomorrow’s design professionals. The Campus RainWorks Challenge will recruit their creativity and expertise to jointly advance EPA’s mission of protecting public health and water quality.

Learn more and participate on challenge.gov.

 

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