Home > Spotlights > Undergraduate Student Spotlights > "When It Rains, It Pours" in Mod Quad

"When It Rains, It Pours" in Mod Quad


PUBLISHED: April 10, 2014

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences
Campus RainWorks Challenge

The group of Notre Dame undergrads who participated in the EPA’s 2014 Campus RainWorks Challenge — students from civil & environmental engineering & earth sciences, architecture, and political science — were not talking about Morton Salt® when they proposed an innovative solution to an important storm water issue on campus.

Mod Quad, a green space on the northeast edge of campus, sits between the Pasquerilla East and Pasquerilla West dormitories. Drainage is poor, and — as one student put it — when a large storm occurs, “a small lake forms.” Since this is the main pathway for students living in these dorms, or for those walking onto campus from a nearby parking lot, the flooding can be a significant inconvenience.

Storm water run-off and flooding are common issues on university campuses and in many urban areas where added impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, roofs, and sidewalks, can overload the storm sewer systems. To solve this problem, the Mod Quad team used a “green design” approach: they proposed adding a rain garden. Actually, their solution encompasses not one but four gardens, new sidewalks with permeable concrete, additional vegetation on the edges of the buildings surrounding the garden sites, and new lighting.

Traditionally, rain gardens are excavated and then “rebuilt” with specific soil and plants to help catch contaminants from run-off, remove the pollutants, relieve stress on storm sewers, and enhance groundwater infiltration. That’s a lot of pressure for a space that also needs to be beautiful, especially when you pair that with the educational benefit of informing the public about the importance of sustainable storm water and water resource management (something the students also want to do). The new Mod Quad Rain Garden, as designed by students, would contain soils and plants native to northern Indiana, provide a habitat for wildlife such as birds and butterflies, increase natural filtration of the storm water in this area, and provide a community green space for students.

Shown, from left to right are Paul Hurley, Robert Nerenberg, Will Connors, Matt Matasci, Claire Sieradzki, and Charles Farrell. Not pictured are Elizabeth Andruszkiewicz, Madison Braman, Julie Cleveland, Alison Collins, William Gorman, Teresa Muldoon, Delma Palma, and Jesus Perez.
Mod Quad Rain Garden team members Elizabeth Andruszkiewicz, Madison Braman, Julie Cleveland, Alison Collins, Will Connors, William Gorman, Paul Hurley, Matthew Matasci, Teresa Muldoon, Delma Palma, Jesus Perez, and Claire Sieradzki took responsibility for all aspects of the project, with guidance from faculty adviser Robert Nerenberg, associate professor of civil & environmental engineering & earth sciences, and facilities advisor Charles Farrell, P.E., senior environmental & safety specialist at Notre Dame. The students are hoping that their design will be approved by University planners and included as part of the construction of two new dormitories in the area.