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Urban Runoff

Theme: 
Natural Systems, Water
Grade: 
9, 10, 11, 12
Essential questions
How can we use green infrastructure solutions to better manage stormwater runoff on school grounds?

Large quantities of rainfall can have enormous consequences in cities, a fact that was reinforced tragically during and after superstorm Sandy in 2012. As damaged cities repair themselves, it is more important than ever to recognize the significance of innovation in these redesign efforts. Large scale storms aren’t the only events that can wreak havoc on an urban environment, even a typical summer storm can impact an urban area in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. For example, urban runoff can contain pollutants that are picked up as rainwater flows over urban surfaces. These pollutants eventually end up in our waterways and can have significant effects on the ecosystem.

Whether a city is rebuilding after a devastating storm or simply looking to revitalize and and improve, working with nature rather than against it is a key part of the process of redesigning our cities to be more resilient and sustainable. This lesson introduces students to a variety of nature-based design ideas and asks them to consider which one would be best suited to dealing with urban runoff on their school grounds. For more information on nature-based solutions and green infrastructure, explore the article Accessing Urban Environmental Education Opportunities via Green Infrastructure found here.

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