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UF students awarded first place in EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge


Erik Ugartachea / WUFT


A team of University of Florida students was recognized for its water sustainability efforts after winning first place in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s inaugural Campus RainWorks Challenge. Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water, presented the award to the winners. She said Earth Day is an appropriate day to recognize the team’s water management solution.

“(The team) designed it around how students actually use this area of the Reitz lawn,” Stoner said.

Stoner said the team interviewed others to find out where they walked to class, so they could create their design.

The UF group competed among 218 teams. The team researched and designed a master plan for creative circulation improvements for stormwater at the Reitz Student Union North Lawn.

The students hope to create awareness of the “journey of water,” by designing a landscape showing the movement, processes and properties of stormwater starting at the at the lawn and eventually making its way to Lake Alice on UF’s campus.

“From the beginning of this studio, to the submission of our work to the EPA, the class conducted this project as a cross-discipline team effort,” said Glenn Acomb, a landscape architecture senior lecturer and faculty adviser, in a press release. “We organized as an office with a project manager and worked tirelessly to produce the various submittal products.”

The goal of the challenge is to create innovative green infrastructure systems reducing stormwater pollution and supporting sustainable communities. The landscaping is functional and serves as a beautification project as well, bringing together a combination of landscape architecture and environmental, agricultural and biological engineering backgrounds.

Landscape architecture senior Emily Sturm served as the UF team’s project manager. Team members also included Jabari Taylor, Brenda Lugano, Tracy Wyman, Jayne Branstrom, Hannah Plate, Gregory Ford, Josh Evitt, Tracy Fanara, Wesley Henson, Angelica Engel and Natalie Nelson.

“Stormwater itself is a big pollution problem across the U.S., and it’s a growing pollution problem as urbanization occurs along with population growth and development,” Stoner said. “This is an opportunity to address that problem.”

Dana Edwards wrote this story online.

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