The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $20,000 grant to Kansas State University to carry out a green infrastructure demonstration and training project on its campus in Manhattan, Kansas. Faculty and students will create “living laboratories” to conduct green infrastructure monitoring at two on-campus sites, the rain garden at the International Student Center and the meadow at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.

According to the project narrative, faculty will devise a “green infrastructure monitoring curriculum” that will offer “technical training on water quality analysis, runoff modeling, and overall ecological health assessments.” Students from different disciplines will collaborate on the monitoring program. They will record and analyze data to gauge performance, then develop communication materials, including brochures and a touch screen at the museum. “Measuring green infrastructure’s impact is important and so is training individuals who can make contributions to the field,” says Ken Kopocis, EPA’s deputy assistant administrator for water. “By giving students hands-on experience with green infrastructure monitoring, this project achieves both objectives.”

Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage wet weather runoff, treating stormwater as a resource rather than a waste. It can enhance resiliency for communities and landscapes faced with water pollution and climate change impacts by increasing water supplies, reducing flooding, combatting urban heat island effect, and improving water quality.

The award encourages sustainable stormwater management by educating the next generation of scientists, designers, and engineers about green infrastructure. By supporting demonstrations and training, colleges and universities can advance the implementation of green infrastructure to protect water quality. This award builds on the success of EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, in which faculty and student teams design green infrastructure projects for their campuses. Kansas State won a $2,000 first-place prize in 2013. EPA also awarded a $20,000 grant to Mississippi State University to design and construct a 1,500-square-foot rain garden to manage runoff from a nearby building.