Water Quality Improvement Through Community Campus Partnerships

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Mid-Campus Creek Stormwater Project and International Student Center Rain Garden Project

Dr. Lee Skabelund created a service-learning project to address problems associated with stormwater in Mid-Campus Creek area of the Kansas State University campus. Participating in the service-learning project were undergraduate students from Dr. Skabelund’s Environmental Issues & Ethics and Construction II courses.

The goal of the project was to take ideas from the charrette in October 2006 and implement these best management practices in an area on campus near the Campus Creek. The area identified as the ideal location was the International Student Center, which is centrally located between the Campus Creek and the Derby Dining Complex. Stormwater run-off from the dining hall was contributing to the erosion of soil on the south side of the International Student Center. In addition, stormwater water run-off from the roof of the International Student Center was being captured in scuppers and dry wells. These attempts to divert the stormwater were unsuccessful, as erosion and flooding was still occurring in this area.

The native plants used in the rain garden had to be ordered and delivered to the site. Native plants included little bluestem, switchgrass, and flowering plants. Limestone pallets and stones for pathways were either bought with the mini-grant monies or donated from local construction companies. The site also consisted of a gravel walkway and a limestone bench in a nearby wooded area.

After the build phase is finished, stormwater run-off from the roof and guttering of the International Student Center will drop onto the pallet stones below. The rain will splatter and filter through the garden as it runs toward Mid-Campus Creek. Any additional water run-off or flooding that flows out of the rain garden area will be distributed evenly, as the construction also included leveling stones at the base of the garden.


Water Quality Assessment and Hydrological Evaluation of the Campus Creek Watershed on the Kansas State University Campus

Dr. Alok Bhandari conducted two service-learning projects to address the concerns of campus officials that contaminants could be present in Mid-Campus Creek on the Kansas State University campus. Students collected 18 water samples. The samples were collected twice from nine different sites along the creek to ensure the results would be reliable. The water samples were incubated and cooled overnight in petri dishes and were ready to test for fecal coliform on the day of the site visit. The day after the fecal coliform testing, the students would test for E. coli bacteria in the water samples. In order to test for fecal coliform, the students, wearing protective gloves, counted the number of brownish-colored spots that appeared on the paper in the petri dishes. After determining what should “count” as a brown spot, the students began the process of compiling the numbers. Immediately, the students noted that the dishes contained well over the normal limit of 20 dots; some dishes contained over 200 brownish- colored spots! The students discussed this conclusion and prepared their samples for the next round of testing. Students from both groups completed their projects by delivering formal presentations.