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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of its sixth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national collegiate competition that engages the next generation of environmental professionals to design innovative solutions for stormwater pollution.

“Through EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, we are harnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of college students to solve local stormwater problems and better protect the environment," said EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator David Ross.

Stormwater runoff is a significant source of water pollution in America, conveying pollutants to waterbodies, contributing to downstream flooding, and threatening public health and the environment. The Campus RainWorks Challenge asks students and faculty to apply green infrastructure design principles, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on the nation’s college campuses.

EPA invited student teams to compete in two design categories: the Master Plan category, which examines how green infrastructure can be broadly integrated across campus, and the Demonstration Project category, that focuses on how green infrastructure can address stormwater pollution at a specific site on campus. With the help of a faculty advisor, teams of students took on the challenges of stormwater management and showcased the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure.

First place teams will receive a $2,000 student prize to be split among team members and a $3,000 faculty prize to support green infrastructure research and education. Second place teams will receive a $1,000 student prize and a $2,000 faculty prize.

1st Place Demonstration Project category University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“Campus Hydro Redesigned,” converts parking space into a multi-functional campus amenity.

1st Place Master Plan category – University of California, Berkeley
The “(Re)Generations,” design strategically phases green infrastructure across the campus, capturing 100 percent of the university’s stormwater runoff by 2100, and restoring water quality to the Strawberry Creek watershed.

2nd Place Demonstration Project category – University of New Mexico
The “Johnson Field (Re)Creation,” project proposes to transform an athletic field to better manage stormwater runoff, reduce local flooding, and improve water efficiency on site by recessing the playing field two inches and encircling the field with a network of rain gardens and new tree plantings. The design would result in the annual capture of over 1 million gallons of stormwater.

2nd Place Master Plan category – University of Maryland, College Park
The "Champion Gateway,” design integrates multiple green infrastructure practices into a campus entryway and pedestrian corridor. It decreases impervious surface by over 70% and increases tree canopy by planting over 350 new trees.

University of Arizona received an honorable mention in both the Demonstration Project and Master Plan categories.

EPA plans to announce the seventh annual Campus RainWorks Challenge in the summer of 2018. Since 2012 nearly 600 teams have participated in the challenge.

Green infrastructure tools and techniques for stormwater management include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, habitat conservation, rain gardens, and rain harvesting systems. Using these tools decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement “gray” infrastructure such as pipes, filters, and ponds. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution while increasing economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings, and open space.