Rice University’s Innovative Program on Water Quality

Feb 03

Rice University’s Innovative Program on Water Quality

The Civil and Environmental Engineering department, in partnership with the Administrative Center for sustainability and Energy Management and Facilities Engineering and Planning, has created the Rice Urban Laboratory for The Environment (RULE) to study the hydrologic and water quality impacts of green infrastructure systems in Houston. RULE focuses on the design, construction, and monitoring of Low Impact Development (LID) features for storm water management. On the Rice Campus National awareness about the benefits of Low Impact Development has been growing over the past decade, largely due to the research initiatives at universities.

LID features include vegetated conveyance channels, retention basins, and green roofs which function to slow, filter, and limit the overall flow of rainwater runoff into municipal storm water systems.  The implementation of RULE on the Rice Campus provide three main benefits. Reduce impervious surfaces on the campus in order to reduce the flooding hazards due to increased infiltration and retention and to improve water quality of storm runoff through the filtration of pollutants. Provide Rice University researchers and students the educational opportunity to monitor LID features in real-time rain events and simulated events to better understand functionality for design, modeling, and implementation. Provide public outreach and education to the community about the effectiveness of LID in Houston and provide opportunities for outside industry and partners to utilize the features as learning tools and test facilities for LID engineering products.

The RULE on-campus laboratory provides the invaluable opportunity to monitor LID features and collect data on water storage capabilities, water quality parameters, and provide data. The continued outreach of the RULE features to the public and outside industry provides a benefit to Rice and the RULE initiative through potential funding sources, and continued involvement of the community on flooding issues and solutions in Houston.

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