Model Project Employs Green Erosion Control
Physical plant grounds worker Victoria Wade plants Virginia sweetspire by the stone water channel. -- VMI Photo by John Robertson IV.
LEXINGTON, Va., Dec. 12, 2011 – Summer internships available through VMI's physical plant are providing an opportunity for valuable real world experience to cadets as well as to students from other institutions.
A slope erosion control project was completed Nov. 11 on Anderson Drive, behind Gray-Minor Stadium, and has held up well to recent rainstorms. The project was planned over the summer by Mary Beth Brown, a sophomore civil engineering student at University of Virginia.
“It started because severe erosion was occurring on a hillside along the residential area of Anderson Drive,” said Brown. “Instead of using a traditional storm water rerouting method, Major [Jenny] deHart suggested that we explore 'green' solutions.”
The project may become a model for implementing green erosion control projects around post, reducing sedimentation of Woods Creek and other waterways in addition to beautifying post and making the work of grounds crews safer and easier.
“As we monitor the performance over the next year, we will be looking for other sites where we can employ similar projects on post,” said DeHart, physical plant sustainability coordinator.
The Anderson Drive project included the planting of Virginia sweetspire and St. John's wort in addition to building a stone channel to route the water down the slope.
“Through my research, I decided that I could combine a garden and a river rock channel for natural-looking, environmentally responsible erosion control,” said Brown. “In addition, some of the water could be rerouted to flow down a hillside, at the bottom of which there was an already existing vegetated drainage ditch.”
Brown found a simple and practical method for determining where the water was coming from in order to effectively redirect it.
“I was able to clearly determine the runoff patterns only after observing water flow for half an hour during a heavy rainstorm,” said Brown. “Once I determined where the water was coming from and where it was going, I was able to start making plans.”
Brown consulted with experts from VMI, extension agents, and others to ensure the project was a success. She gave special credit to Marvin Clark, foreman of the VMI grounds shop, and his crew.
“I thought it was really important to talk to grounds because ultimately they would be in charge of maintaining the site, and they have much more experience than I do,” said Brown. “Their advice and support was particularly helpful.”
–John Robertson IV