Student-Designed Water Harvesting Projects Receive Awards on Local, Regional, and National Levels

May 6, 2020

Student-Designed Water Harvesting Projects Receive Awards on Local and National Levels
SNRE offers a variety of unique courses on sustainability that bridge gaps between ecological knowledge and management decisions. The Ecology of Water Harvesting course (RNR 496/596 instructed by Dr. Vanessa Buzzard and Dr. Laura Meredith) focuses on the intersection of landscape design and ecology and provides students with hands-on experience with data collection and analysis.
This year, students in SNRE?s Ecology of Water Harvesting course and CAPLA?s Design Studio V course (LAR 612 instructed by Prof. Bo Yang) collaborated on green infrastructure solution designs that provide an innovative solution to water-intensive landscapes on the University of Arizona campus. The SNRE team brought a new hands-on ecological dimension to already innovative Landscape Architecture course, and students compared differences in soil microbial diversity and other soil health indicators in green infrastructure versus high water intensity landscapes on campus. Two collaborative teams submitted their projects to the University of Arizona and the EPA and both received awards! Both teams also won awards and were recognized by the AZ Chapter ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects).
Team 1, including RNR 496 students, Hannah Felkins-Talkington and Peter Price, was awarded the EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge for their design addressing storm water management that seeks to ?connect human and hydrological movement across campus.? They proposed a network of three water channels running north-to-south through campus to mitigate daily flooding that occurs during monsoon season and improve flow of pedestrian traffic across campus. Changes to curb and sidewalk infrastructure will slow water down and allow it to infiltrate the surface, feeding native vegetation. The resulting ?rain gardens? will provide shade and green areas across campus. View the video describing their project here.

Team 1's design featuring north-south corridors throughout UA's campus
Team 2, including RNR 496 students, Ryan Everest Hunt and Dana Marie Thorne, was awarded the Elizabeth ?Liba? Wheat Memorial Prize. This design includes an expansion of the Sonoran Desert vegetation in the Joseph Wood Krutch garden. Clever use of curb cuts, basins, and native vegetation will allow for a far more biodiverse and shadier landscape running through the center of campus, providing opportunities for class study, citizen science, as well as views of native wildlife and vegetation as students walk to class. The plan even includes shade covers that turn falling rain into music! Read more about their exciting ideas in the here.
Team 2's design featuring an extension of the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden, allowing for a shadier and more biodiverse UA Mall. 
The Ecology of Water Harvesting course was supported by a Teaching Innovation Grant from the College of Architecture, Planning, & Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona ?Integrated learning module on the design and ecological functions of water harvesting landscapes on the UA campus? Co-PIs: B. Yang, V. Buzzard, L. Meredith ($4,000; Fall 2019).