As part of the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative and Jordan Lake Rules, UNC aims to reduce Total Nitrogen, one of the main culprits of eutrophication, or excessive nutrients, in the stormwater that flows off our campus and eventually ends up in Jordan Lake, by 35 percent by 2041.
One of the aspect of the Zero Water goal is to improve the quality of water exiting campus. At UNC, a range of innovative stormwater management strategies significantly reduce sediment and nutrient loading in area watersheds and prevent downstream flooding.
Stormwater is the blanket term for water harvested from precipitation or runoff. Underground cisterns hold rainwater to irrigate campus green roofs and athletic turf. This recycles the fertilizer and avoids sending nutrients downstream, protecting Jordan Lake. Some of the rain water is also used to flush toilets in certain buildings.
Permeable pavement is another structural approach to stormwater management that has been employed extensively at Carolina. Gravel beds under the porous surface store rainwater until it slowly infiltrates into our clay soils. The soil then filters out pollutants conveyed from the parking lot, reducing the amount of nutrients that leave UNC’s campus and enter Jordan Lake.