Today’s forecast: 62 degrees with an 85% chance of showers. Put on your raincoat and start singing…

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…

Look at all the puddles forming, and the water rushing down the street to the storm drain. Hmm, looks silty. And I wonder what types of pollution are in the water that we can’t see?

Stormwater runoff can carry a host of unwelcome and potentially harmful materials into surface waters, such as nutrients from pesticides and fertilizers, hazardous chemicals from household cleaning supplies, and even pet waste. Thus, managing stormwater is important for maintaining our surface water quality.

Damaged riparian zone and highly turbid water at Oberlin College. Image credit Noah Schwarz
So you can’t stop a rainstorm by singing a song, but you can do your part to reduce stormwater runoff and improve habitat and ecosystem health right on your campus.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water has opened registration for their first annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a competition for college and university students to manage stormwater on their campuses using green infrastructure techniques–vegetation, soil and other natural methods.

What’s involved in the RainWorks Challenge? Well, first you need a team of students, and a faculty advisor. Next, register for the competition before Friday, October 5th. Once the EPA deems your team eligible to compete, it’s time to get designing! You can read the guidelines and requirementson the EPA’s webpage. Good luck!

Stumped on how to get started? Campus Ecology Case Studies to the rescue! Villanova University in Pennsylvania has been home to a stormwater wetlands for almost a decade, involving departments across campus with research and monitoring. An Oberlin College student successfully initiated the building of two rain gardens on campus as well as riparian zone repair.

And if you think you’ve got the endurance to compete for the planet all year, register for Campus Conservation Nationals!