Villanova has received a Growing Greener Watershed Grant of $185,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to implement a redesign of the constructed stormwater wetlands (CSW) located in the northeast corner of campus. The award will help defray reconstruction, instrumentation, administrative, and other costs.
Although the original CSW is functioning, researchers want to improve its performance. "Because we've studied the current design, we now know more about how the process works," said Bridget Wadzuk, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering who, with her colleague, Associate Professor Robert Traver, Ph.D., is the principal investigator on the proposal. "By comparing the results from the new model, we can optimize the design and use space more efficiently."
CSWs play a critical role in stormwater management. In developed areas, stormwater traveling rapidly over fertilized lawns, roofs, pavements, and other impervious surfaces collects pollutants, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and carries them into downstream water bodies. "The CSW acts as a buffer," explained Dr. Wadzuk. "It slows the stormwater down, and the solids to which the pollutants have attached then settle out."
As a result, the CSW improves the quality of the water that eventually reaches the Schuylkill River. "The ideal is not treating the end point but treating what goes into it," Dr. Wadzuk said. The CSW also provides a diverse habitat in an urban environment.
A component of the Stormwater Best Management Practice Demonstration Park at Villanova, the CSW serves as an educational tool and a research site. It also exemplifies Villanova’s commitment to sustainability. "Every little thing counts—from the water we consume to the water we waste," said Dr. Wadzuk, who recently attended a forum on how to implement a green agenda in Philadelphia. "If we recognize the inherent goodness of the earth, then we will protect the earth for ourselves and for future generations."