Cat's CATchment

April 24, 2015: CAT's CATchment Clean Up.  Please join us for an afternoon of planting, trimming, and cleaning to ready the garden for the spring and summer seasons.  All skill levels welcome! We are offering $100 to the club that recruits the most students; they can show-up anytime between 11:30 and 3:00 PM, but we ask that they commit to at least an hour.  We will have sign-in sheets available.                                (For further details contact Suzette Walling @ s.walling@uky.edu)

What's the purpose of the CATchment? 
The CATchment captures stormwater runoff and retains it to encourage infiltration into the soil.  This allows natural soil and plant processes to break down contaminants such as petroleum products from roadways and parking lots, excess nutrients from lawn fertilizer applications, and bacteria and pathogens from pet and livestock waste.  It also helps to slow down runoff to help minimize erosion downstream, protecting precious habitat.  This translates into improved stream health for animal and aquatic life and human recreation. 

Why here?
The University of Kentucky is required to address stormwater managment issues as part of its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit.  Part of these requirements include educating the UK community about stormwater runoff and developing stormwater control measures to improve the quality and reduces the quantity of stormwater runoff.  The site was selected because it flows into the Gluck Equine Detention North basin which is currently being monitored as part of the permit.  The site is also a highly visible and publicly accessible location.

Who's involved?
The site was initially identified in a Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) student proposal for the 2012 EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge which was completed as part of a class project (BAE 750-001 Low Impact Development)) under the mentoring of Dr. Carmen Agouridis, P.E. (COA/BAE).  TFISE worked with BAE, Cooperative Extension and Environmental Management to obtain grant funds from the Student Sustainability Council and Lexington Fayette Urban County Government and the location was approved in Spring 2013.  Landscape Architecture (LA) redeveloped the original student design to minimize the amount of soil removed and provide for additional basin elements to facilitate potential research projects.  The BAE crew took it from there and broke ground in October, spending the next several weeks excavating and amending soils and bringing the design concept into fruition. 

What's next?
The April 2014 planting completed Phase II of the project.  The plants not only provide the aesthetic appeal, but they also play an important role in trapping excess sediment and uptake of contaminants.  Additional funding was awarded by the SSC for Phase III of the installation which includes the outdoor seating installed Summer 2014.  Future plans are to incorporate interpretive signage and a walking path.

The vision?
While the rain garden serves a practical purpose, we looked at this as an opportunity to create a living learning laboratory.  We seek to engage creative faculty to integrate project-based learning into their curriculum and help develop long-term monitoring projects for student-led research.  We also would like to encourage student clubs to partner as "stewards" and adopt the rain garden as their club's legacy.          

Where we were...

July 2014: With funding from the UK's SSC, LA's design concept and BAE brawn, the seating area was installed with rocks from a local quarry. 

April 11, 2014: With help from enthusiastic UK faculty, staff, and students and friends from BCTC, we completed Phase II of the CAT's CATchment installing about 300 plants in an hour! What an incredible display of dedication – not even threatening clouds or rain could keep them away.

October 2013: Construction of the basin network transforming a flow-through retention basin into an engineered and landscaped series of catchments.  The design included installation of a sediment forebay to trap debris and litter, excavation and amending compacted soils, and preservation of observation and classroom areas.  Multiple pools were installed for comparitive studies.

   

© 2013 Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment