Improving Hydrologic Sustainability of Texas A&M University Campus

EPA Grant Number: SU833944
Title: Improving Hydrologic Sustainability of Texas A&M University Campus
Investigators: Zechman, Emily , Autenrieth, R. L. , Olivera, Francisco , Brumbelow, Kelly , Cahill, Tony
Current Investigators: Zechman, Emily , Boulanger, Bryan , Jaber, Fouad , Moore, Georgianne , Stoleru, Radu
Institution: Texas A & M University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Urbanization changes the rainfall-runoff relationship in a watershed due to increased impervious cover and leads to higher storm water runoff volumes that are flushed more quickly to the downstream receiving water body. Increased flooding degrades downstream ecosystems, increases erosion in the channel, and increases the number of inundated properties during small floods. Components of urban development, including land use, transportation infrastructure and Best Management Practices (BMPs) (e.g., detention ponds, wetlands, and porous pavement), may be designed more effectively to lead to hydrologic sustainability, where the downstream receiving body is not as adversely affected by storm water runoff. Current design metrics, such as peak flow criteria, may be used to design hydraulic system components, such as detention ponds, resulting in peak flows that do not exceed pre-development levels. These flows, however, have a longer residence in the downstream channel and fundamentally alter the downstream environment. Metrics based on peak flows do not fully capture the impact of urbanization and fail to give policy-makers, developers and landowners a measure of their impact on the downstream water body or a sense of ownership of these impacts.

The objective of this research is to better quantify and increase awareness of storm water runoff impacts through the development and demonstration of new hydrologic sustainability metrics and to increase the hydrologic sustainability of the Texas A&M University campus.


We propose a metric, Hydrologic Footprint Residence (HFR) that captures the change in the downstream floodplain and the duration of the flood’s residence. Because Texas A&M University is one of the nation’s largest university campuses by acreage, the campus has the potential for severely impacting downstream health. The hydrological sustainability of the campus will be evaluated through traditional flow-based metrics, statistical metrics, and HFR. BMP designs for improving the hydrologic sustainability of campus will be investigated and evaluated based on these metrics.

Expected Results:

This research will involve the investigation of metrics, development of hydrologic models of the Texas A&M University campus, hydrologic data gathering efforts, integration of BMP models with hydrologic models, and design and evaluation of BMPs. Furthermore, a website will be developed to demonstrate user-friendly sustainability metrics to increase awareness and ownership of the hydrologic impacts of urbanization. These concepts, metrics, and results will be integrated in undergraduate and graduate-level courses, including a Sustainable Development course, offered by the Department of Civil Engineering.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 10 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

water quantity, sustainable water management, urban water planning, storm water management,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report