The Rainworks Challenge Bioretention Demonstration Project

Author(s): Gallo, W.

Raingardens and bioretention facilities are being explored for their application in urban environments all across the United States. However, each location is unique, requiring specific soil, climate, rainfall, and even political responses. Over the past year, MSU faculty and students have designed and built a demonstration facility on MSU’s Starkville campus that is designed to meet the specific requirements of an urban site in central Mississippi.

Funded by an EPA grant, the demonstration facility captures water from a campus building for reuse in a 2,000 gallon cistern and manages the remaining rainfall in an engineered bioretenation basin. The facility is designed to be seamlessly integrated into the surrounding site and offers educational kiosks that explain the various layers and design considerations that go into a bioretenation basin. The facility uses adapted and native species to reduce irrigation demands in summer. The plants thrive in eighteen inches of biorentention soil mix that filters pollutants and absorbs rainfall. Due to the heavy clay soils of central Mississippi, a gravel layer was installed below the soil to allow for storage over a longer period of time and move water out of the facility in larger events.

The project was designed and built through a collaborative process by students from Landscape Architecture, Graphic Design and Civil Engineering. At each step students were able to make real world decisions that impacted the final outcome of the demonstration facility. This process has helped to prepare them to be leaders in bioretention design after graduation and to influence the sustainable design of our cities.

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