Watershed Management at the Basin Scale at Duke University

EPA Grant Number: SU835156
Title: Watershed Management at the Basin Scale at Duke University
Investigators: Schaad, David , Bernhardt, Emily , Deshusses, Marc , Halley, Jim , Kabala, Zbigniew J. , Medina, Miguel A. , Palumbo, Steve , Richardson, Curtis J.
Institution: Duke University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2011) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


America’s development pedagogies, urban land use, and storm water management have significantly altered the hydrological and ecological health of its watersheds and streams. While there exists a variety of stream restoration and storm water best management practices, they are often employed independently at individual sites and have yet to demonstrate scientific efficacy in restoring function of the entire watershed. With increasing frequency of variable moisture conditions (like droughts) and stricter regulation of nutrient loads in surface waters (the recent promulgation of Total Maximum Daily Loads [TMDLs] in regional watersheds), the need for cohesive basin-wide management and restoration is significant to ensure regular supply of clean water for human consumption and recreation, and the continued health of aquatic ecosystems.


In a collaborative effort between researchers, the facilities management staff, and an outside engineering firm, Duke is working to develop a basin wide management and restoration strategy which could be duplicated at other universities across the nation. Instead of examining individual stream reaches, or a section of the campus, the approach being proposed for the P3 contest is to treat the entire watershed as an integrated system, with solutions being conceptualized on the basin scale to address the identified problems.

Expected Results:

The proposal for the P3 contest is to initiate an ongoing learning laboratory initiative with a pilot demonstration project that will restore a section of stream and improve local storm water management. The pilot project will lay a foundation for the basin-wide learning laboratory, where students from various disciplines can work with practicing professionals to develop stream restoration, wetland mitigation and storm water management measures that are a step beyond best management practices currently employed. The students are not only able to develop their design, but as part of several service-learning courses are able to work to realize the design and actually participate in the construction of the designed solution around a portion of the identified basin approach. The ongoing initiative will enable students to grow a replicable basin-wide strategy that collectively addresses an issue of sustainability by restoring the hydrological and ecological function of an urban watershed and stream system.

Supplemental Keywords:

stream restoration, storm water management, nutrient uptake, watershed management, climate change, sustainable development

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2012
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    Watershed Management at the Basin Scale at Duke University  | Final Report