The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been recognized for its innovative work to protect North Carolina’s drinking water and watersheds through the Battle Grove Restoration Project. The Energy Services and Environment, Health and Safety departments received the 2018 Source Water Protection Award from the North Carolina Source Water Collaborative last month.
The Battle Grove Restoration Project turned a bowl-like field and underground drain pipe adjacent to McIver Residence Hall that frequently flooded, into an above-ground stream with a filtration process designed to naturally filter pollutants and contaminants out of runoff water, improving the water quality of water sources downstream, like Jordan Lake. Heavy rains can cause erosion and sedimentation, so slowing the movement of the water across rocks and through sand and wetland plants acts as a filter to clean the water.
“Not only did the Battle Grove site reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in downstream water, but it also increased the habitat for birds and aquatic species coupled with the addition of fruit trees as part of the Edible Campus initiative,” said Sally Hoyt, UNC-Chapel Hill stormwater utility manager. “This area has become part of the living-learning laboratory at Carolina, allowing classes to tour and learn about our impact on the surrounding community.”
One of the three goals of Chancellor Folt’s Three Zeros Environmental Initiative is water neutrality. UNC-Chapel Hill is already water neutral by one measurement- the University uses less water than falls on the campus annually. Beyond that goal, UNC-Chapel Hill also wants to improve the quality of water that leaves the campus, which will improve the water quality of places such as Jordan Lake.
“The Energy Services Stormwater Management and Facilities Services teams worked diligently to improve water quality not only on campus, but for our larger community,” said Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises and chief sustainability officer. “Through their efforts, we can not only improve the quality of water exiting our campus, but also provide an experiential learning opportunity about the significant impact of surface water for students and faculty.”
Sally Hoyt and Janet Clarke, a stormwater specialist in the UNC-Chapel Hill Environment, Health and Safety, accepted the award at the Water Resources Research Institute Annual Conference on behalf of the University on March 14, 2018.
The Three Zeros Environmental Initiative is an initiative from Chancellor Folt’s Blueprint for Next. The Three Zeros Environmental Initiative is Carolina’s integrated approach to reducing its environmental footprint through three sustainability goals: net zero water usage, zero waste to landfills, net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Implementation will improve operational efficiency, generate cost savings, and will create a living-learning laboratory for students, faculty and staff to study and advance the most recent developments in sustainability policy and technology.