U.Va.'s Comprehensive Approach to Stormwater Management Earns National Recognition

May 23, 2008 — The University of Virginia and Nitsch Engineering of Boston have received a landscape architecture merit award from the Society for College and University Planning for the Meadow Creek Regional Stormwater Management Master Plan.
The plan establishes a stormwater management system for the Meadow Creek watershed, instead of creating plans for individual construction sites. The master plan includes the Dell Pond, which acts as a stormwater retention pond; a retention pond and wetland at the Emmet Street and Ivy Road parking garage; and a series of systems at the John Paul Jones Arena that slow stormwater from rushing into Meadow Creek.

"This plan treats stormwater as a resource for ornamental landscape," said Mary V. Hughes, landscape architect for the University. "The stormwater management looks like parks and plazas."

Nitsch Engineering president Judith Nitsch agreed. "The Dell is the first visual outcome of the stormwater master plan," she said. "It's a beautiful campus amenity that performs stormwater management functions, such as reducing flooding, decreasing erosion and improving stormwater quality to the City of Charlottesville downstream. This plan will yield benefits to the University and the city for years to come."

Nitsch said she has applied lessons learned from U.Va. to stormwater projects at Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities.

"We have learned that the caliber of the client's staff is critically important for this kind of campuswide project," said Nitsch. "At U.Va., the people in the Office of the Architect for the University, Facilities Management and the Energy and Utilities Department have worked collaboratively with Nitsch Engineering to create this plan for the University's expansion. They were at the forefront of regional stormwater master planning when we began working on projects for U.Va. eight years ago."

The plan calls for stormwater ponds to capture sediment before it enters the stream, opening up sections of the stream to daylight and allowing water to be absorbed and filtered by plants and soil before running off to the stream.

"This has a more substantial and beneficial impact on the environment than the individual solutions," said Jeffrey Sitler, hydrogeologist and environmental compliance manager for the University's Office of Environmental Health and Safety. "We are improving the quality and quantity of the surface water and dealing with the runoff from the Grounds on a grander scale."

The judges selected 12 honor awards and seven merit awards from 170 submissions spread over nine categories.

Founded in 1965, the Society for College and University Planning is an international association of professionals involved in all aspects of planning for higher education institutions. The Excellence in Planning, Excellence in Landscape Architecture and Excellence in Architecture Program began in 2000 as a joint venture between the Society for College and University Planning and the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education. The juried competition recognizes state-of-the-art planning and excellence in higher education environments.

In 2007, landscape architecture became its own category.

For information on the stormwater management plan, visit this Web site. For information about the Society of College and University Planners, visit its Web site.