Storm water management is a key facet of urban planning and environmental management. As impervious surfaces like concrete and asphalt replace natural, pervious surfaces like grass and forestland problems like pollution, decreased water entering aquifers, erosion of stream beds, and overflow of water at treatment plants emerge as greater and more expensive challenges. In an effort to start solving this macro problem, our team will implement micro solutions by establishing sustainable landscapes (hereafter rainscapes) for low and moderate-income Washington-area families. The team will work with partners to design a series of rainscape models that will be built by team members, residents, community members, volunteers, and other students. The different designs will accommodate the varied needs of homeowners and the unique spaces they will inhabit. Each design will feature key elements of a rainscape, such as a rain barrel (to collect and store rainwater which can be used for watering plants or other outdoor uses that do not necessitate potable water), installation of permeable pavers, new tree plantings to provide shade and naturally cool homes, native plant species (requiring little to no maintenance), planted roofs or walls (to filter rainwater and provide shade), and shallow depressions in the land (to absorb runoff in a controlled manner).
The team has extensive research experience, which will be utilized throughout the life cycle of the project to measure key outcomes and to continuously improve the project. The quantitative and qualitative variables that will be measured over the project duration include: the amount of funds raised, and the specific breakdown of funds by source (commercial, non-profit, etc.); the number of RainScapes built and planted and the overall number of residents served; the specific communities where rainscapes are built, the geographic distribution of which will be plotted using GIS. Working with GWU’s Department of Environmental Healt