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Villanova Awarded $800,000 NSF Grant for Stormwater Systems Research

Bridget Wadzuk, PhD, associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Dr. Bridget Wadzuk

by Rebecca Watson ’15 CLAS

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (BIC) program has granted Villanova University $800,000 for the research and development of “smart” green infrastructure systems. Under the leadership of Associate Professor Bridget Wadzuk, PhD, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the three-year project— “PFI:BIC Self-Learning Algorithms for Advancement of Smart Stormwater Green Infrastructure Systems”—combines the work of the CEE department, as well as Computing Sciences.

Green infrastructures (GIs) have been developed to deal with stormwater runoff, which can discharge pollutants such as metals or nutrients into soil and streams, leading to erosion, sedimentation, flooding, and overflow in combined sewer systems. GIs such as bioretention, constructed wetlands, and vegetated roofs help to combat these problems; however, these systems cannot yet adapt to seasonal changes, and have high implementation and maintenance costs.

Through its research, Dr. Wadzuk’s team hopes to develop “smart,” efficient, active, and self-learning stormwater service systems that offer better options in the GI marketplace. By utilizing sensors and human-generated data to streamline GI maintenance programs, these “smart” systems will be less costly and more effective.

As the effect of stormwater on urban and suburban watersheds becomes an increasingly pressing issue, research funded by the NSF is crucial to the improvement of impaired water bodies. Data collected from the “smart” GIs will be transmitted, stored, processed, and published in an effort to link stakeholders to the infrastructures. Dr. Wadzuk says the project strives “to contribute to making substantial advances in how we engineer and live with stormwater and stormwater solutions.”