Georgia Tech has implemented 13 reforrestation projects since 2003 as part of its storm water management implementation. The "before" and "after" effect is dramatic.
Georgia Tech’s commitment to the environment and the ecology of the campus is emblemized in the development of the Eco-Commons. One of the goals of the Eco-Commons addresses storm water management, whereby Georgia Tech’s contribution to the Atlanta storm sewer system will be reduced to circa 1951 hydrology conditions. Storm water will be removed from underground pipes and be visually exposed, creating academic, research and recreational opportunities. Storm water collection and reuse: cisterns, towers, ponds, and the “Eco-commons”.
Currently in design phase, the EcoCommons will be a natural retreat on campus. Shrubs, trees and other native plants pay respect to the Institute’s historical landscape, restoring a forested stream buffer and a future storm water management and irrigation collection site. Key to achieving the storm management benefit is proper tree coverage, as depicted in the graph, above, and the Campus Landscape Master Plan.
The ecological performance of the campus today is very different from what it was in the past when it was a natural landscape. There is more storm-water runoff, less vegetation, less biological diversity, more microclimatic extremes, and more air pollution. While some of these effects are the general product of urbanization, their levels on campus are a result of campus land use.
Storm water storage and infiltration beds will be installed and covered with topsoil and pervious artificial turf in some recreational and athletic arenas.
Converting managed woodland back into layered forest is a way to restore natural hydrologic patterns. Steeply sloped and shaded areas are candidates for conversion. Areas with mulch will be looked at to see if low shrubs or groundcovers can be added to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of storm water runoff.
Stormwater Management Objectives:
1. Develop the Eco-Commons and associated Corridors into a sustainable stormwater management system.
2. Reconstruct and condition soils to increase infiltration and storage.
3. Recharge groundwater supplies and reinvigorate pre-existing natural drainage systems of the campus.
4. Increase campus tree canopy coverage.
5. Increase the campus coverage of woodlands.
6. Manage storm-water as close to its point of contact as possible.
7. Replace existing management systems which funnel storm-water into pipes, with systems that bring water into contact with the soil.
8. Treat stormwater as a valuable resource, including harvesting it for non-potable uses.
9. Utilize campus corridors as multi-purpose avenues, with ecological function that include detention, infiltration, recharge and conveyance of water to the Eco- Commons.