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What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff is precipitation, such as rain or snowmelt, that flows across impervious surfaces, such as pavement, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways, rather than being absorbed naturally by the ground.
Why is it a problem?
Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants in its path as it flows across impervious surfaces before draining directly into a nearby body of water. Pollutants can include debris and litter (e.g. cigarette butts, road salts, sediment, fertilizer, etc.) and automotive fluids (e.g. oil, grease, brake fluid, transmission fluid, etc.). On campus, stormwater runoff drains to Gross' Branch and subsequently to the Appomattox River, which flows into the James River and then into the Chesapeake Bay.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes the Appomattox River, a tributary of the James River, is a region or area of land that is drained by a river or other body of water.
Chesapeake Bay watershed:
- Extends over 64,000 sq. miles
- Encompasses six states and Washington, D.C.
- Drains 50 major rivers and streams
The Chesapeake Bay is North America's largest estuary, a body of water formed where freshwater from rivers and streams flows into the ocean, mixing with salt water. Compared to other estuaries worldwide, the Chesapeake Bay has the highest land-to-water ratio in the world.
Protect Virginia's rivers and streams and the community's water supply by properly disposing of litter and other pollutants.
Click here to learn more (pdf).
Current Stormwater Management Practices
Rainwater Harvesting System
The turf field at Lancer Park and the field hockey and soccer fields on Johnston Drive are both equipped with stormwater harvesting systems. Stormwater runoff from the fields is collected in an underground storage tank and reused to irrigate the fields, instead of using potable water. The turf field at Lancer Park has a 179,000 gallon tank and the fields on Johnston Drive have a 44,000 gallons tank.
Stormwater Management Wetland
The stormwater management wetland at the corner of Race and Franklin Streets is designed to collect stormwater runoff from 69 acres of residential area adjacent to campus. The water conveyed to the wetland is stored to reduce erosion, sedimentation and flooding; plants reduce the amount of pollutants infiltrating into groundwater or flowing into Gross Branch.
What is water conservation?
Water conservation is the utilization of strategies and best practices to use potable water more efficiently to decrease consumption, reduce costs and extend the useful life of the existing water supply.
Water Conservation Tips
- Report all leaks and drips to your RA or Area Coordinator
- Use your washing machine and dishwasher only for full loads
- Turn off the tap while shaving and brushing
- Limit shower time to 4 minutes
- Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily; don't use it as a garbage can
- Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, instead of using running water to thaw meat and other frozen foods
- Use only 1 glass in the dining hall; refill as you wish
- Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than allowing the tap to run every time you want a cool glass of water
- Additional water conservation tips
Current Water Conservation Practices
Automated Sprinkler System
The Landscaping and Grounds Department installed an automated sprinkler control system to improve the efficiency of the irrigation system, thus reducing the use of potable water for irrigation.
The campus has approximately 13,000 sq. ft. of xeriscapes, which do not require irrigation thus conserving water and reducing costs.