For the past two years, Sound Rivers has been partnering with Craven County Schools and the Epiphany School of Global Studies on an innovative Campus Stormwater Project. This grant funded project seeks to mitigate stormwater runoff from campuses while providing an outdoor classroom learning experience for students.
Engineers from NC State University surveyed each of the participating campuses and developed a report outlining areas of stormwater concern, as well as the control measures that should be implemented.
This project also provides teachers with lesson plans about stormwater pollution to include in their curriculum and gives them the opportunity to attend a teacher education workshop to learn how to teach stormwater issues.
On a cool, dry and partly sunny Saturday morning on December 17, the tour group arrived at the UUFNB parking lot. As soon as our guide, Clay Barber, Sound Rivers Environmental Projects Coordinator arrived, the group set off on foot, crossing Trent Road to Sound Rivers office which is next door to the Epiphany School of Global Studies.
The Epiphany School reaps huge rewards from the installation of two - 2500 gallon tanks that capture rain water runoff from the school roof. Pipes connect the two tanks and are buried underground leading to a pump station which feeds sprayers on the athletic field, saving the school the high cost of city water during periods of drought, utilizing rain water collected in the water retention system.
Stormwater runoff is often the main cause of surface water pollution and erosion. Runoff on the Epiphany School campus is guided by swales, and slowed and spread by dams created by barriers of marl rock throughout the edges of the Epiphany School grounds. These reductions can give rainfall more time to soak into the ground and replenish our needed stores of groundwater.
In the fall of 2022 Sound Rivers Program Director, Clay Barber began a new project at West Craven Middle School. Stormwater runoff was eroding the banks of the Neuse River near the site of the school. Clay explained, "We chose to do a rain garden there because the rain garden is built right on top of the storm drain which leads to a pipe system that encircles the school. Water was bursting out of the outfall pipe so fast and powerfully, causing a giant hole in the ground which led to sediment issues. It was literally leading to land loss."
The rain garden project slows the release of the stormwater by spreading the water over a 1300 square foot garden. An elevated storm drain in the garden ensures ponding of water around the drain. "The purpose is always to slow stormwater down, spread it out and let it soak in." Native plant species, including Fountain Eel Grass and Salvia, were installed to soak up water and nutrients. As an added benefit, the plants attract birds, insects, and other pollinators.
The project represents the first stormwater control measure on a campus located only a couple of hundred yards from the Neuse River next to the Spring Garden boat ramp.
These innovative campus stormwater projects were funded by the Bosch Community Fund Grant, the Harold H. Bate Foundation, the Craven County Community Foundation and the Environmental Enhancement Grant program.
Visit Sound Rivers website for more information on these and other projects offering solutions to controlling stormwater runoff and capturing rain water while also offering educational opportunities.