PLAN COMBINES INNOVATION, AESTHETICS
December 23, 2002--
The University of Virginia is taking an innovative regional
approach to storm-water management, and state officials are praising
1,200 feet of Meadow Creek in the Dell will be brought back to the
surface as part of a plan for handling storm-water runoff from portions
of the Grounds, the Emmet Street parking garage, the proposed arts
precinct and the planned Massie Road multi-purpose arena. The University’s
master plan calls for designing upstream areas to control drainage
in order to limit erosion, flooding and the speed that water runs
off into the city’s storm drain network.
regional approach is not new, but this combination of best management
practices and stream renovation is probably more innovative than
anything I know about in the state,” said Richard Cooper,
an urban program engineer for the Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation. He has approved the University’s storm-water
master plan and is reviewing its implementation plans.
University is a good citizen and cares about the environment, “
said Lee Mallonee, landscape architect for Biohabitats Inc., which
designed the streams in the project. “What is truly remarkable
here is the University’s willingness to look at all of its
property and handle storm-water management regionally, not just
site by site. This kind of overall planning is very cutting edge.”
idea initially came in a mid-1990s report on the University’s
water resources by Andropogon Associates, which first suggested
opening, or “daylighting,” Meadow Creek. Judith Nitsch
Engineers, who created the storm-water master plan, refined it by
incorporating the creek into the storm-water management steps of
several University projects.
changing the approach to storm-water runoff from an engineering
problem to an environmental and aesthetic asset for the University
Grounds,” said University landscape architect Mary Hughes.
majority of Meadow Creek on University Grounds was channeled into
underground pipes in the 1950s when the topography of the area was
changed to accommodate the McCormick Road dorms. The creek starts
on Observatory Hill and winds through an underground pipe beneath
Facilities Management, the Dell, under the Central Grounds Parking
Garage and Nameless Field, then comes to the surface on the north
edge of Carr’s Hill Field, just before running under the CSX
railroad tracks. On the other side of the tracks, it is an open
stream that runs around the southern and western edges of the Lambeth
Field residence area, before going underground again to cross Emmet
Street. It flows open along Emmet Street to Copley Road, where it
enters the city storm drain at the low point of its watershed on
University Grounds. By slowing the flow of storm water higher upstream,
there is less impact when it enters the city system.
at the Massie Road arena will be designed to accommodate drainage,
with water runoff from the arena channeled into grass swales containing
native plants to act as bio-retention filters and slowing the flow.
The vegetation will filter out sediments as well as naturally occurring
elements, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Mallonee said the entire
project would include about 40 native plants, including persimmon,
pawpaw, deciduous holly, sassafras, dogwood, willow oaks and tulip
University’s approach links several projects with a single
regional system, instead of having individual detention basins on
each site. It also complies with the Chesapeake Bay Directive, which
calls for more creative management of storm water within the bay
watershed. Cooper has accompanied Hughes and Nitsch to make presentations
about the University’s plan before government and university
audiences in Roanoke and Richmond.
a feather in the University’s cap to not only meet the state
laws and regulations, but to go beyond and meet the innovative practices
[standard],” Cooper said.
the Dell, Biohabitats designed a low-flow stream to run to a one-acre
pond near the front of Lambeth House with an outlet into the underground
pipe. The existing pipes are being left intact and the stream designed
so that water flows exceeding 15 cubic feet per second will be diverted
from the above-ground channel and flow into the pipe. Without the
overflow pipe, the Dell would flood during heavy rains, Mallonee
said opening water to air and sunlight improves water quality, and
Linda K. Blum, an associate professor in the environmental sciences
department, will conduct research over several years to gather data
on the process.
said the changes to the stream should reduce flooding at the Emmet
Street and Ivy Road intersection.
the construction of the Meadow Creek part is scheduled to start
in the spring, the re-channeling of the nameless tributary that
runs through the Emmet Street garage site is under way. That stream,
which has a 150-acre watershed, part of which is on Grounds, joins
Meadow Creek on the northern edge of Carr’s Hill Field.
designed the garage-site stream to have “plunge pools”
that slow the flow of the water, tree trunks and root wads to direct
the water and armor the banks from erosion, and a detention basin
to hold 100-year floodwaters. Trees and rocks from the site are
being used in structuring the stream channel.
Lee Graves, (434) 924-6857