IIT Students Net Prize for Garden That Could Eliminate Sewers

By Sam Cholke on April 23, 2013 7:17am 

 The EPA awarded Lara Rivera and 13 other IIT students $11,000 in research funding for their design for a garden that can prevent 3 million gallons of rainwater from entering city sewers each year.
The EPA awarded Lara Rivera and 13 other IIT students $11,000 in research funding for their design for a garden that can prevent 3 million gallons of rainwater from entering city sewers each year.
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DNAInfo/Sam Cholke

BRONZEVILLE — A team of Illinois Institute of Technology students has designed three formal gardens that could eliminate the need for sewers on a stretch of campus.

The 14 architecture and engineering students won a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency competition on Earth Day with their plan for three gardens that could keep 3 million gallons of water from entering the sewers along South Dearborn Avenue every year.

“Our goal from the outset was to open a conversation about green infrastructure on campus,” said Lara Rivera, a landscape design student in the College of Architecture. The gardens “must not only work, they must be visible and must be interesting.”

The team beat out submissions from 218 other universities with a plan that includes permeable sidewalks and three large water gardens with native plants along a 1,200-foot stretch of service road on campus.

Rainfall now flows off the pavement into the storm drains until they are overflowing, which was on prominent display during last week’s downpour.

“We were trying to reconnect a disconnected landscape with a series of formal gardens,” said Assistant Professor Mary Pat Mattson, the faculty mentor for the group.

Mattson said the student’s work helps the university move toward its goal of reducing the water the school puts into the sewers.

The students will share a $2,500 cash prize and the school will get $11,000 from the EPA for research on green infrastructure.

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