State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008AZ273B
Title: Lessons Learned: Extending the student/staff/faculty collaborative work model to the K-12 education
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: Arizona 7th
Focus Categories: Conservation, Education, Management and Planning
Keywords: Water Harvesting R&D, Water Use, System Design, Student Education
Principal Investigator: Riley, James Joseph (Univeristy of Arizona)
Federal Funds: $ 11,474
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 24,623
Abstract: Aridity is a fact of life in Arizona, yet current architectural design and landscape planning practices do not often account for water scarcity. Rainwater is a dramatically underutilized resource - often seen as a nuisance - due to a dearth of knowledge about rainwater harvesting. As a land-grant university in a semi-arid environment, the University of Arizona (UA) is ideally situated to assume a leadership role in designing and implementing rainwater harvesting systems and educating the public about their benefits. Thus far, the UA faculty, staff and students have been successful in the implementation of prototype rainwater harvesting systems on the UA campus. The completed projects at the UA Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Building, the Meinel Optical Sciences Building and the UA Visitor Center are a testament to the collaborative institutional model and close working relationships between faculty, staff and students. To truly have an impact on the community though, rainwater harvesting must be implemented on a wider scale, and the collaborative model developed at UA must be extended into the wider community. This proposal seeks to extend the model to the Tucson Unified School District; creating a working relationship between students, parents, faculty and TUSD staff at Brichta Elementary School. The Brichta rainwater harvesting project will also serve as a prototype for extending this model to local K-12 schools. PI's and UA students will work alongside Brichta Elementary School students, teachers, staff and parents to design an innovative rainwater harvesting system on the school grounds and teach Brichta students about the benefits of rainwater harvesting. In addition, the Brichta project will be designed in cooperation with restoration ecologists to create a sanctuary for native birds and pollinators for educational purposes. The project will be student-driven and will further define the UA's role in the Tucson community and beyond as a learning laboratory for sustainability in arid and semi-arid environments, educating elementary students about not only rainwater harvesting, but water issues in the Southwest, and the value of native plants and pollinators. Furthermore, students, in conjunction with faculty, staff and consultants, will select a dorm on the UA campus at which to implement a rainwater harvesting and landscaping project. As part of the broader effort to extend knowledge of rainwater harvesting and project participation, dorm residents, members of the surrounding neighborhood associations and UA alumni will be invited to observe and/or join in. Previous surveying has identified the Cochise Residence Hall as an ideal location for such a project. A rainwater harvesting system at Cochise Residence Hall will not only serve as an educational forum for water conservation, but will also help alleviate an existing flooding problem. Current conditions make the area prone to soil erosion and excessive stormwater runoff into adjacent roadways during rain events. Preventing excessive runoff has the potential to improve relations with neighborhood associations concerned about runoff water on local roadways from the UA campus.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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