UIC students present storm water plan at international conference

The team receives the RainWorks award from EPA administrator Susan Hedman. L-R: back row Ann Cosgrove, Ben O’Connor, Curtis Witek, Nick Haas; front row David Klawitter, Emmanuel Dominguez, Lisha Wu, Hedman and Eduardo Munoz.

UIC students in engineering, urban planning and earth sciences presented their award-winning plan to manage campus storm water at the annual conference of the Water and Environment Federation held in late September in Chicago.

The team won first place in the master plan category of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Campus RainWorks Challenge last spring, competing against more than 500 college students from 64 teams in 23 states.

The EPA and the Water and Environment Federation invited the students to present their project at WEFTEC 2015, the federation’s annual conference that includes thousands of professionals in water quality science and engineering. The team took part in the Stormwater Congress Sept. 29 at McCormick Place.

The UIC team includes civil and materials engineering students Nick Haas, Lisha Wu, David Klawitter and Emmanuel Dominguez; urban planning and policy students Curtis Witek and Eduardo Munoz; and earth and environmental sciences student Ann Cosgrove. Ben O’Connor, assistant professor of civil and materials engineering, is the group’s adviser.

“I think the students are proud of their achievement and like the recognition they are getting,” O’Connor said, adding that the group is looking for funds to implement their plan.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a national EPA competition for students to design green storm water infrastructure on campus.

The UIC team created 10-year plan to improve rainwater management on the east side of campus and reduce runoff by 30 million gallons. The plan would replace lawn with native grasses and plants to save on maintenance, mowing and irrigation, and replace parking lot pavement with more permeable materials (to be done when upgrades or repairs are already planned).