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Blue systems: toward a campus water aesthetic.

Maintaining clean water is increasingly becoming of concern across the globe. That concern has brought Integrated Water Management (IWM) additional attention on campuses. IWM can be transformative for historic campuses and their communities.

No campus is an "island"--yet every campus is surrounded by water above and below ground. Every curb, parking lot, or rooftop forms a kind of "riverbank" for surrounding creeks, aquifers, and lakes "downstream" within the larger watershed. Water is an enduring connector between town and gown that we are only now beginning to understand in terms of its importance in regional well-being.

Many campuses are known for their distinctive water aesthetics, such as the river gorges surging through Cornell University, St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Lakes at the University of Notre Dame, and the Lyman Lakes created from a stream dam at Carleton College in Minnesota. At the new campus of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, re-created dry stone arroyos lace downhill between housing and academic facilities. As a functioning piece of stormwater design, the arroyos not only facilitate the drainage of water during flash floods following storms, but they also show 21st-century students how the traditional foothills landscape appeared before the advent of suburbanization and the engineering of stormwater into underground pipes.

Each of these varying campus water features is significant as a historic landscape shaped by humans and as an ecological resource in a larger watershed. For many reasons, including heritage preservation, economics, scarcity, and evolving federal regulation, understanding the lessons of pre-settlement hydrology will become a critical planning focus for campuses at all scales in the coming decades.

Given increasing ground water contamination in California's Central Valley and the Midwest and water scarcity in the rapidly growing Southwest, Integrated Water Management (IWM) practices are becoming essential just to maintain communities and campuses at their current size. The potential for a warmer climate, longer summers, and extreme droughts and storm events may further overwhelm current approaches for water acquisition and treatment.

This article defines IWM and its importance in meeting evolving state and federal mandates including the Clean Water Act as enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Now applied to large cities and building projects, it is likely that these strengthened (and potentially controversial) mandates will eventually regulate water inputs and outputs for smaller communities and for corporate, medical, and higher education campuses. Yet, these demands can also create new opportunities for cost savings, habitat restoration, and campus design. Thus, we will explore how campuses can create a "water aesthetic" that highlights their unique institutional histories, ecological regions, and landscape architectural heritages while also improving water quality. The article also includes a sidebar that provides details of strategies for incorporating water management into campus planning along with other helpful resources.

Integrated Water Management practices are becoming essential just to maintain campuses at their current size.


Over the past 20 years, universities have focused their primary conservation efforts on energy usage. While such initiatives are productive and easy to validate, the water-energy nexus has been largely overlooked. These two critical resources are inextricably and reciprocally linked: the production of energy requires large volumes of water while the treatment and distribution of water are equally dependent upon readily available, low-cost energy.

The majority of today's campuses are not taking advantage of the water resources that are available. There are large volumes of water that go unaccounted for--the rainwater that falls, the wastewater that is generated by occupants, and the large amount of water from mechanical processes such as air conditioning condensate, cool tower blowdown, and filter reject water.

An IWM approach on campus promises to significantly reduce consumption of potable water in buildings, reduce discharge to municipal wastewater systems, and save on municipal energy use by reducing the amount of potable water treated at municipal facilities. The recognition of the connection between water management and energy conservation is creating a new opportunity for integrated management systems. At the same time, integrated planning will also help develop and efficiently manage limited water resources to foster increased urban sustainability.

Reusing water before sending it to a wastewater treatment facility not only conserves water, but also reduces pollution and the need for extensive wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Additionally, such water reuse systems consider the health and safety of the public in matching the source wastewater with the level of treatment necessary to its intended use. IWM limits the linear use of water from source to waste and looks at creating spatially decentralized yet functionally integrated water reuse cycles, as shown in figure 1.


Green building rating systems, such as the Living Building Challenge 2.0, require water independence for communities and single-purpose sites. Such high standards are likely to become more common in the years to come. Now, imagine a campus where all water needs are met with captured rainwater and wastewater and where no sewage or stormwater leaves a site. Such an audacious goal has inspired designers to think "outside the box" as they pursue water independence. As access to potable water for landscape uses is restricted, the water patterns of a campus--its "blue systems"--become a source of the critical fuel required to achieve the promise of green infrastructure. The growing need for IWM is being driven by a number of factors, including

* Increasing scarcity of and limited access to water

* Cost of water and wastewater treatment

* Regulatory mandates to control and manage stormwater on-site

* Quality problems with traditional water sources

* Climate change and changes to historic rainfall patterns

* Financial incentives and tax exemptions


Since the 17th century, the term "landscape" has implied the flowing compositions of Dutch pastoral paintings from the time--often with a stream or canal set in the foreground. Such visual qualities as sweeping lawns and historic roads, plantings, spatial patterns, and water features still matter in creating campus character. Yet, beyond the visual aesthetics of water and trees, we must also appreciate the beauty of how watersheds, river systems, and wetlands act as organizing forces in the historic growth of towns, campuses, and entire regions.

Understanding the connections among regional ecological history, historic landscape character, and contemporary campus activity opens new insights in planning for integrated sustainability. We need today a richer landscape aesthetic that integrates a deep understanding of the function of water, its relation to energy usage, and how it can be revealed as an essential part of local character.

A first step is to understand the local hydrologic cycle and then to ask how the pre-human settlement hydrology of a campus region can inform planning today. In most campus settings, human activities have radically altered the hydrologic cycle, redirecting how the water moves and in the process disrupting the delicate balance that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years. As urbanization occurs, impermeable surfaces such as roofs and pavements increase stormwater runoff; they accelerate erosion and sedimentation of natural streams and water bodies while reducing groundwater infiltration (figure 2).


Although there are many methods and technologies for taking a holistic approach to water management, the following strategies are common to all (Fernandez-Gonzalez 2009):

* Harvest all economically viable sources of on-site water

* Filter, treat, and integrate harvested water into supply

* Provide on-demand storage of all harvested water

* Provide digital control of harvesting, storage, and distribution of reclaimed water

* Utilize high-efficiency distribution of harvested water for green roofs, walls, and landscaped areas

* Minimize dependence on municipal water supply; reuse and limit waste

Many campuses are now incorporating rainwater gardens, bioswales, permeable pavements, green roofs, and green walls when planning major facilities. Yet, such projects are often one of a kind and not coordinated in a long-term vision that addresses all of the above strategies. In most cases, these important green infrastructure tools are used to slow or interrupt the linear flow of water and not to incorporate the water into an integrated solution or visual and ecological identity for the institution. By thinking of harvesting, treatment, and conservation separately, campus leaders risk losing the opportunity to reclaim water as an overall system with mutually-supportive approaches. Campuses may also lose the chance to envision a unified "campus water aesthetic" that expresses regional climate, geological history, and planning traditions.

By thinking of harvesting, treatment, and conservation separately, campus leaders risk losing the opportunity to reclaim water as an overall system.

The relatively complex and urban campuses of the Universities of Wisconsin and Louisville offer important precedents for developing funding strategies, specific design solutions, and larger integrated blue systems planning over time. They offer a glimpse of a new generation of IWM that stewards a "sense of place"--an understanding of how every campus has a unique story to tell in its expression of its climate, lakes, streams, and surrounding community.


... flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm .... I wandered away at every opportunity, making long excursions round the lakes, gathering specimens and keeping them fresh in a bucket in my room to study at night after my regular class tasks were learned; for my eyes never closed on the plant glory I had seen. (Muir 1913, pp. 157-58)

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), water has been a daily part of student life since the university was founded on Lake Mendota in 1848 and John Muir became a student in 1860 (figures 3 and 4). Because of the lake and its sacredness for Native Americans, the campus is rich in archaeological resources. High over the lake on the current campus, the Woodland Indians of circa 800 BCE-1650 CE created bird- and water-spirit effigy mounds that remain today. Just to the northeast and cascading down to the lake is John Muir Woods, named for the famed environmentalist who first found a love of nature as a student in nearby North Hall. A lakefront path extends from the Memorial Union through Muir Woods and nearby wetlands to Picnic Point on the western edge of campus. With the state capitol building as a high point, Madison itself was dramatically sited on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and the smaller Lake Monona to the south. Together, they are known as the Yahara Lakes and are part of a larger Four Lakes historic region.



Beloved by Frank Lloyd Wright, Aldo Leopold, and other early environmentalists, the hilly landscape throughout the Madison region was shaped by the advance and retreat of glaciers, leaving the long terminal moraines, linear eskers, and rolling hills that frame the regional watersheds of today. Yet, with the rapid expansion of Madison and its suburbs, this countryside grows more distant every year. As a renowned research university, UW has also grown significantly with the construction of large-footprint facilities for biotechnology, genomics, and other research.

As director of UWs Department of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, Gary Brown, FASLA, has been involved with siting, massing, and site water issues for nearly every major campus project of the last 15 years. As a campus planner and landscape architect, Brown is very concerned about water usage and overuse throughout the Midwest. Even in the relatively unpopulated Sand Counties of central Wisconsin, once home to Aldo Leopold, Brown explains in a recent interview that "we're seeing lakes drying up because of high-capacity wells." Often utilized in large-scale agriculture, these high-intensity uses reveal over decades the limits and fragility of even seemingly vast water reserves. In a rapidly growing metropolitan region, the stresses of water use and discharge can be even greater.

Much of the stormwater from Madison's western suburbs does not stay there. It flows toward Lake Mendota and through the UW campus. Brown explains that the main campus is actually located in the lower part of two different watersheds (figure 5). Thus, the suburbs to the south and west of the campus--places with shopping centers, large parking lots, and rambler houses with wide driveways--tend to "bounce" a lot of stormwater and its collected pollutants downstream. Much of the stormwater is collected into pipes that discharge directly into University Bay, framed by Picnic Point and right on the campus's lakefront path. The resulting introduction of phosphates and nitrates is causing significant eutrophication (algae growth) in this campus-defining shoreline. "You really have to look at the whole watershed," Brown says about the stormwater issue. As a result, UW is increasingly talking with municipalities about coordinated stormwater planning and infiltration strategies.


In October 2003, the UW-Madison Campus Planning Committee recommended that "the University of Wisconsin-Madison commit to a policy that ensures that the amount of runoff from newly developed and redeveloped areas be no greater than the amount (of runoff) that occurred under native conditions" (Brown 2003, p. 3). To achieve its goal of a long-term reduction in the university's impact on the Yahara Lakes, this mandate requires entirely new approaches to onsite water treatment in new healthcare, parking, research, and athletics facilities--especially on the western sections of the main campus abutting Picnic Point. Brown explains that the return to native landscape conditions can be difficult to achieve in UWs increasingly urban and dense campus setting. Yet, over the last 20 years, the incremental introduction of new rainwater gardens, green roofs, and bioswales has been programmed and funded through individual building projects. Today, UW is home to several Best Management Practice (BMP) demonstration projects.

One example of increasing water quality regulation was the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requirement that the university achieve a 40 percent reduction in total suspended solids (TSS) discharged by 2013. Even though this mandate was recently rescinded by the state legislature, the university continues to reach toward this goal as a good citizen by reducing the impact of sediments and phosphorus in the Yahara Lakes system. In addition, UW commissioned Strand Engineering to create a campuswide stormwater strategy. Strand studied watersheds and their boundaries on campus and in the arboretum, all stormwater facilities existing on campus, and soil types across campus for their infiltration capabilities.

The Madison campus is now home to examples of several water management strategies, including green roofs, bioswales, porous paving, and the use of native plants to absorb runoff (figure 6). In the longer term, the university will restore or re create wetlands along the Lake Mendota shoreline and the path connecting the core campus to Picnic Point (figure 7). These native shorelines are a part of a regional landscape history that offers sustainable design solutions for the future. Serving as riparian bands for stormwater purification, these restored water and plant communities will recall the shoreline's appearance before Euro-American settlement in the mid-19th century. As such, they can serve as important teaching tools for ecology classes, courses in Native American history, and tours of historic campus landscapes as documented in UWs campus Cultural Landscape Report. [1]




On August 4, 2009, record-breaking rains fell in central Louisville [2] and the surrounding counties between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. EDT, with reported hourly rainfall rates as high as 8.83 inches. The University of Louisville's Belknap and Health Sciences campuses were particularly hard hit by the deluge. During the flood, numerous buildings were damaged, classes were displaced, and many cars were abandoned as water levels were too high for travel (figure 8). The university incurred $20 million of water damage. Buildings went without power, and students suffered from the effects of the flood as well. Ironically, as this article was being prepared the campus suffered another devastating flood in the spring of 2012, once again disrupting classes and damaging facilities.

Flooding of an underpass at the University of Louisville after the flash flood of 2009. Source: The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office.


How quickly we forget that history has a tendency to repeat itself. In January 1937, during the hard economic times of the Great Depression, heavy rains began to fall on Louisville and continued to do so for two straight weeks. The Ohio River reached a crest of 57.1 feet--nearly 30 feet above flood stage--and more than 175,000 citizens were displaced (figure 9). While a considerably smaller campus in 1937, the same flood-prone areas of the university were underwater as in 2009.


As a city, Louisville's historic development has been influenced by its location on the Ohio River, which spurred its growth from an isolated campsite to a major shipping port. Surrounded by hill country on all sides, the majority of the city is located on a very wide and flat flood plain that was once swampland that had to be drained as the city grew. By the 1850s, most of the natural drainage features and creeks had been rerouted or channelized, allowing for industrial development in the flood plain with ease of access by rail or ship. The University of Louisville's Belknap Campus is located within this hard-surface context of rail and industry. Bounded by rail lines, highways, older industrial sites, and newer commercial edges, the campus has been traditionally underserved with adequate stormwater infrastructure. It was a prime candidate for flooding.

In 2008, the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) entered into a Consent Decree that outlines a long-term plan to improve water quality by eliminating sanitary sewer overflows and reducing combined sewer overflows throughout the Louisville area in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. The Consent Decree requires the MSD to present its plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Department of Justice. In combination with other large stormwater infrastructure projects, the MSD decided to implement a public stipend program to encourage the development of green infrastructure in order to expedite water quality improvements.

Because the University of Louisville has large land holdings in a critical area, the MSD and the institution created a partnership agreement to coordinate a campuswide look at green infrastructure. Unlike most of the nation, the University of Louisville is located on high-rate alluvial sand deposits that allow for effective infiltration of large volumes of stormwater. Funded by the MSD stipend program, the university is undertaking a comprehensive implementation of green infrastructure projects that will be expanded to include IWM principles such as alternative water harvesting and reuse.

In seeking IWM, how can the University of Louisville find a lasting solution that respects both historic landscape character and regional ecological process? Like many older campuses, the university was concerned that the seemingly "prairie-like" quality of recently planted rain gardens and bioswales was inappropriate within the formal campus grounds, which reflect an early 20th-century "period of significance." Furthermore, even only a few years after installation, these small-footprint plantings of native species seemed to struggle ecologically and appeared unkempt. Considerable discussion concerned whether there might be other options to developing a water aesthetic for the University of Louisville that would complement the spatial structure and historic periods of its lawns and tree-filled quadrangles. Most agreed that the traditional rain garden approach would be out of character within the cultural landscapes that define the core campus.

The decisive factor in looking at other approaches was the increased maintenance cost required to meet an acceptable aesthetic for a diverse native plant solution. Instead, the decision was made to focus on the university's most effective asset--the sand geology underground. By understanding this unique quality of its geologic history, the university had an unusual opportunity to utilize infiltration basins, infiltration trenches, and pervious pavements that place most of the stormwater facilities below grade. As a result, large stormwater structures could be placed below the campus's historic cultural open spaces and surface parking areas without visually altering the campus landscape (figure 10).


Louisville's MSD urged the university to include a public educational component as part of its new integrated green infrastructure system. Thus, the university added some rain gardens and bioswales to the mix of projects with tours and signage that allow for public education. However, the expression of these elements was modified to reflect a more traditional and manicured "southern landscape aesthetic" through the use of less complex and more uniformly sized plant mixes. Ultimately this integrated green infrastructure project will create a significant reduction in flooding while maintaining and enhancing the historic cultural landscape spaces on campus.

Early in the planning process, the university made the important discovery that its traditional stormwater facilities are used only about three to five percent of the year when it is raining. Because it seemed highly inefficient to construct a working system that is used so little, the design team explored using this infrastructure element for alternate wastewater streams as well. Plans for the new addition to the Speed Art Museum on campus will include a fully integrated system wherein rainwater, foundation water, cooling tower blowdown, air conditioning condensate, and stormwater are routed to cisterns and harvested for landscape irrigation (figure 11). Only when excess water overflows the cisterns will it be directed to the underground infiltration basins.


In the Speed Museum project, these alternate water sources are harvested and beneficially used to irrigate the landscape, thereby reducing the reliance on potable water sources and the demands on storm sewers. Because of the evapotranspiration of the plants and the 20 to 25 percent overhead irrigation efficiency loss in distribution, the energy benefit of evaporative cooling on campus is equal to approximately 1,400 tons of air conditioning per acre per year.

What water planning at the University of Louisville demonstrates is that large-scale integrated green infrastructure projects can be implemented at a precinct or district scale without compromising the quality of historic cultural landscapes. It also provides a template for how public partnerships can be leveraged to meet multiple campus objectives. Nearly every urban area in the nation may soon become subject to the broadening of the EPA's requirements for compliance with the Clean Water Act. Although seemingly a challenge, this expanded mandate could create an opportunity for campuses to tap into federal and local funding programs to enhance their blue systems as society moves toward decentralized public water and wastewater infrastructure.

In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt argued that "civilized people should be able to dispose of sewage in a better way than by putting it in the drinking water." Yet a century later, we put tremendous funding and imbedded energy into the purification of potable water; then we waste much of it. Almost 100 percent of the water delivered to campuses is drinking quality. Yet, we use only 10 percent of this potable water for human consumption through drinking and cooking. There are numerous ways to recapture and reuse water on campus. When we do so, we save energy, which, in turn, saves water and money.


Beyond treating water on-site and meeting state and federal regulations, how can we begin to think about water in a more holistic and proactive way?

In the examples above, we have seen how campuses can draw from the histories of their natural and cultural landscapes to invent new strategies and site-specific solutions for sustainable water planning. But what is the next step in green design beyond conservation and site-specific water treatment? How can campuses and their surrounding communities play a larger restorative and healing role in regional ecology?

One answer is the idea of "regeneration." Moving beyond the idea of "sustainability" (a term first popularized in the 1980s), regenerative campus projects can do more than just maintain an existing ecology and conserve resources. They actually give something back to the earth to improve air quality, enrich soils, and restore biodiversity.

Much of today's discussion of regenerative design owes a debt to the work of the late John T. Lyle, a professor of landscape architecture at Cal-Poly Pomona, who first coined the term "resilience" to express how landscapes ranging in scale from a single brownfield site to an entire metropolitan region contain the potential for ecological self-renewal. Nearly 20 years ago, he published the seminal book Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development (Lyle 1994). [3] Today, Cal Poly's Center for Regenerative Studies (named for Lyle) offers the following definition of its work:

Regenerative studies is a unique descriptor for the interdisciplinary field of inquiry concerned with a sustainable future. While closely aligned with environmental, economic and social sustainability projects, regenerative studies places emphasis on the development of community support systems which are capable of being restored, renewed, revitalized or regenerated through the integration of natural processes, community action and human behavior. (Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies 2012, [[paragraph]] 1)

Paul Kephart is a California-based ecologist who argues that true regenerative design must use integrated technology to simultaneously accomplish many "stacked" goals, such as those related to indoor air quality, energy production, and water harvesting (Rich 2011). Although multi-layered in their strategies, regenerative landscapes can range in scale from a campus composting system that slowly generates rich soils to replace poor ones to an urban agriculture plan for an entire university or neighborhood.

At the Vancouver Convention Center in Canada (and in collaboration with PWL Partners Landscape Architects), Kephart's green roof serves as an ecological "stepping stone" connecting to the city's lauded Stanley Park. But the ecological reinforcement of a city-defining historic landscape is only the beginning of this project's IWM benefits. "Blackwater" (contaminated water from toilets, sinks, and cleaning normally destined for sanitary sewers) is cleansed onsite and then reused to irrigate the green roof and cool the building. This kind of "stacking" of functions marks a new step in restorative design.

In an article in Fabric Architecture magazine (Martin 2011), Kephart explains that these connected systems make economic sense, too: "The cooling of the large building saved so much money that the return on investment paid for both the green roof and the blackwater cleansing system" ([paragraph] 5). One area of relevance for campuses is the emerging application of green wall systems for holding plantings in place against buildings or as stand-alone structures. On campuses where horizontal space is at a premium--yet vertical walls are everywhere--planting upward can offer significant cooling and aesthetic benefits along sidewalks, near building entries, and around transit stops.

Kephart is an optimist about the future of restorative design and its impact on the economy and society: "Think of all the great opportunities for new materials, monitoring, and infrastructure" (Martin 2011, [paragraph] 9). As we move from an extractive to a restorative economy, Kephart believes that we will create entirely new kinds of jobs, industries, and academic training, much of which can begin with colleges and universities. "We know how to manage and record data relating to energy use, water quality and the waste stream," he says. But, what we lack is "a multi-function approach to modeling for optimal they support the mechanical and plumbing of a structure" ([paragraph] 9).

As a Californian, Kephart is especially concerned about planning for catastrophes such as earthquakes, fires, and other calamities like the major floods that immersed the city of Louisville and its university. When energy, water, and food all come from distant sources and development radically changes the hydrological cycle, the danger of collapse is increased. By harvesting water on-site, growing food closer to cities, and generating electricity close to home, society's overall infrastructure is much more flexible and resilient. Kephart argues that we need to build such fine-grained "mosaics of infrastructure within the bigger grid" (Martin 2011, [paragraph] 10).


In the near future, three emerging technologies--nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and sustainability--will converge in the construction industry to create new advanced composite building materials and systems. These building materials will not just incorporate living ecologies as surface applications; the materials themselves will restore air and water quality in their surroundings. Future building materials will harness and incorporate the self-healing efficiencies of natural systems as already seen in such promising advances as algae colonies that manufacture biodiesel fuels or serve as the basis for self-healing living paints.

For campus planners, the challenge is to weave together not just water strategies and historic resources, but also architecture, utilities, and energy production in every project. The challenge is to plan integrated building and site systems that foster a distinctive campus "sense of place," a sense that a campus's plantings, stone, topography, and scale grew out of its native landscape--whether in southern Vermont, California's Napa Valley, or western Texas.

The challenge is to plan integrated building and site systems that foster a distinctive campus 'sense of place'.

The idea of sense of place--long discussed by geographers--arises from no single sensation such as sight or sound. For a long-time resident of a town or campus, it is far more than any painting can convey. A feeling of being in a place--or at a college--that is like no other place grows out of many factors, including personal memories, local materials, the climate, the soils, and how indoor and outdoor spaces are used. Water, energy, native ecology, landscape history, and emerging technologies can all work together in stewarding this character.

Integrated water and facilities planning for campuses and cities can move to the "next stage" of green design by embracing the many ways of mapping and experiencing a place, ranging from geological analyses of below-grade features to examination of historic photographs that show changes in the human landscape above. By considering the precedents of ecology and landscape history in future planning, we can build environments, roof systems, and entire watersheds that thrive and renew themselves despite the effects of human demands. This emergent ecological health does not replicate the exact conditions of pre-human settlement--or of any historic period. Rather, integrated thinking can create resilient green and blue systems that actually improve the air and water quality on a regional scale.


To capture the rich opportunities available, campus planners need to make water a higher priority in the decisionmaking process. The following are strategies to elevate "blue systems" within overall planning:

RESTRUCTURE WATER RESOURCE RESPONSIBILITIES. One of the most significant challenges to the effective management of water resources in higher education planning is the fragmentation of responsibility across various divisions and departments. This fragmentation limits organizational understanding in a larger context, inhibiting the implementation of integrated solutions. Fragmentation of responsibility also tends to inhibit accountability and progress. An organizational review and restructuring that centralizes responsibilities for water resource management would focus accountability, clarify policy development, and facilitate program implementation.

ESTABLISH A POSITION FOR WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Implementation of a comprehensive water resource management program requires highly specialized knowledge and technical capabilities. Institutions would benefit from establishing a position of leadership in water management. This position would be responsible for tracking utility costs to ensure accountability; facilitating departmental coordination; investigating grant funding; and acting as an information clearinghouse for technical issues, emerging trends, industry advancements, and policy development. Whether the position is new or an expansion of existing responsibilities, the primary benefit comes from establishing a single source for the dissemination of information, evaluation of program effectiveness, and training of staff.


Infrastructure is not seen by the public and does not by itself generate active administrative support. High-profile capital projects will always be deemed as more important by the general public when competing for limited resources. The inadequate public understanding of the importance of infrastructure replacement makes it difficult to generate the needed funding support. To generate sufficient institutional support for substantial infrastructure replacement, it must be part of a larger initiative that is popular and the public benefit must be understood. Water resource management and conservation are a component of the sustainability movement, which is well understood and supported by the general public. Infrastructure replacement has to be communicated in terms of its benefit to a larger sustainability initiative on campus.

IMPLEMENT STAFF TRAINING PROGRAMS. IWM is not a singular event, but rather should be incorporated into most every action and policy a college or university initiates. Achieving the desired operational goals and efficiencies requires a concerted and focused commitment by every individual in the organization. A comprehensive approach to resource management requires a detailed understanding of the IWM principles of water conservation that can only be achieved through staff training. Water resource conservation must be elevated to a priority by the leadership of the institution.

WORK WITH REGULATORY AGENCIES TO ELIMINATE BARRIERS. For too long, we have treated the many types of water and reclaimed water as separate entities. Our definitions of water types and permitted uses also vary by region and are driven by local and regional codes. With varied definitions and little sense of how all the alternative water sources can be integrated in a conservation system, we treat them in isolation or dismiss their potential because of the challenges of gaining regulatory approval for alternative uses. Water is--in a sense--"siloed" as to whether it is stormwater or rainwater. Each water type is subject to its own specific environmental regulations and restrictions for harvest, use, and disposal. If water percolates into the ground, then it is classified as "groundwater." If water flows along the surface, then it is classified as "stormwater." Water from a municipal source may be classified as "graywater" once it is used for a shower. It is then subject to a separate set of health regulations.

Higher education planners have an opportunity to bring together public agencies and water utilities at the local and state levels to discuss current codes and gain a shared understanding of regulatory authority, technical viability, and the financial costs of building scale integrated water systems. Issues that need to be addressed are the obstacles present within current codes, possible alternative pathways for projects seeking approval, and guidance for campuses pursuing the goals of IWM. Current regulations for new public water supply systems are not intended for building scale within areas that already have a public water supply available. As such, building owners seeking approval to create a new public water supply will likely encounter regulatory requirements and financial obstacles. Building owners also take on much greater liability and risk associated with maintaining and operating integrated water systems.

The differences between today's standard water management stream and a forward-thinking net-zero approach to water can be seen by comparing figures A and B.


Today's standard water management stream is highly wasteful and requires regular input of source water and wasteful loss of water that can be re-used.



GREEN ROOFS FOR HEALTHY CITIES. This leading green roof and green wall advocacy group maintains a website that includes helpful technical data and profiles of projects that have won its annual awards at

COMMONLY USED STORMWATER DEFINITIONS. As a key tool in IWM, stormwater serves as the foundation of the Clean Water Act mandate. Here are some key definitions to navigate the stormwater permitting and regulatory process from the Stormwater Management website of Environmental Health & Safety at the University of Virginia:

* Best management practices (BMPs): management practices and procedures used to prevent or reduce the pollution of surface waters.

* Clean Water Act: established in 1972, the act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant from a point source without an NPDES permit. Also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

* Combined sewer overflow (CSO): a discharge of a mixture of sanitary sewage and stormwater at a point in the combination sewer system designed to relieve surcharging flows.

* Green infrastructure: management practices and procedures that use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater at its source and provide other community benefits.

* Integrated water management (IWM): a sustainable approach to managing potable water, rainwater, stormwater, and wastewater holistically as part of watershed planning.

* Low impact development (LID): an approach to land development (or re-development) that works with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible.

* Municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4): any municipal separate storm sewer conveyance or conveyance system, including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, curbs, gutters, and storm drains.

* Net zero water: an approach that seeks to operate within the water budget of a site or district by using closed-loop systems that meet human needs while respecting the surrounding ecosystem.

* Non-point source pollutants (NPS): pollution coming from many diffuse sources whose origin is often difficult to identify. This pollution occurs as rain or snowmelt travels over the land surface and picks up pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, and chemicals from cars. This pollution is difficult to regulate due to its origin from many different sources. These pollutants enter waterways untreated and are a major threat to aquatic organisms and people who fish or use waterways for recreational purposes.

* National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Standards (NPDES): the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory program to control the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States.

* Storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP): a plan required for any industrial facility that discharges stormwater. The SWPPP identifies potential pollutant sources and describes practices that will be implemented to prevent or control pollutant releases to stormwater discharges.

* Total maximum daily load (TMDL): a regulatory limit of the greatest amount of pollutants that can be released into a body of water without adversely affecting water quality.

* Wetlands: an area of land where part of the surface is covered with water or the soil is completely saturated with water for a large majority of the year. Wetlands provide an important habitat for many different types of plant and animal species. Wetlands are also natural stormwater control areas, since they filter out pollutants and are able to retain large amounts of water during storm events.


Brown, G. A. 2003. Controlling Urban Stormwater at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Presentation. Retrieved September 9, 2012, from the World Wide Web:

Fernandez-Gonzalez, A. 2009. Living Oasis: An Innovative Approach to Integrated Building Water Management. Paper presented at the Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Atlanta, June 3.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. 2010. Integrated Water Management for Buildings & Sites. Retrieved September, 9, 2012, from the World Wide Web:

Lyle, J. T. 1994. Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. 2012. About Regeneration. Retrieved September 9, 2012, from the World Wide Web: www.

Martin, F. E. 2011. Green Roofs and Regenerative Design. Fabric Architecture, September 1. Retrieved September 9, 2012, from the World Wide Web:

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[1.] For more information on UW's Cultural Landscape Report, funded under the Getty Foundation's Campus Heritage Initiative, see For more information on UW's preservation planning for the Mendota Lakeshore, see IntroandPrinciplessectionPreserveMasterPlan.pdf.

[2.] For photo sources and a description of the 2009 Louisville storm event, follow the link to the website for the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office:

[3.] See the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies website for additional information on Lyle's work:


Jeffrey L. Bruce, FASLA, LEED, ASIC, GRP, is owner of Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company (JBC), a national landscape architectural firm, and has worked with over 70 universities and colleges nationwide. Founded in 1986, JBC provides highly specialized technical support to many of the nation's leading architectural and landscape architectural firms on a wide variety of project profiles including campus planning, engineered soils, green roof technologies, urban agronomy, green infrastructure, performance sports turf, water harvesting, and integrated water management.

Frank Edgerton Martin is a landscape historian, campus preservation planner, and design journalist. He has worked at such historic campuses as Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana; Wells College in Aurora, New York; and on the Campus Heritage Plans for the University of Minnesota-Morris and the University of Kansas. A long-time contributor to Landscape Architecture magazine, he collaborates with Jeffrey L. Bruce & Company on the integration of cultural landscape preservation and sustainable, restorative design. His article "The Puzzles and Promise of Campus Landscape Preservation: Integrating Sustainability, Historic Landscapes and Institutional Change" appeared in the April-June, 2011 issue of Planning for Higher Education.
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Author:Bruce, Jeffrey L.; Martin, Frank Edgerton
Publication:Planning for Higher Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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