NewSchool of Architecture and Design Students Develop Solutions for Addressing Water Runoff Issues

Proposals from Design Clinic class presented at public forum


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NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) students developed proposals outlining how Low Impact Development (LID) practices can reduce polluted storm water runoff within San Diego's Ocean Beach community. The proposals were developed in NSAD's Design Clinic, an elective course that allows students to undertake community challenges, and formally presented during a public forum in December.

Students who contributed proposals were: Andrea Gal, Katelynn Hanson, Lee Lemons and Jorge Michios. Landscape Architecture program chair Leslie Ryan oversaw the design clinic project and made a formal presentation Dec. 6 of the project findings as part of the quarterly "Signs of the Tides" event hosted by San Diego Coastkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the region's inland and coastal water for the community and wildlife. The event was held in coordination with the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association.

Low Impact Development is a land planning and engineering design approach used to maintain and enhance the pre-development water flow in urban and developing watersheds. The challenge faced by urban areas and communities such as Ocean Beach is that impervious surfaces such as roofs, streets and parking lots prevent storm water from seeping into the soil. Runoff water carries urban pollutants downstream, and can lead to flooding issues. The student proposals focused on finding ways to create permeable areas in the community where storm water could be collected and allowed to filter through soil and plant roots, cleaning the water before it enters the ocean. Among their proposed solutions and research:

  • Develop street gardens near intersections and existing drain inlets that allow for runoff to enter a planter through a curb cut and then filter through the soil.
  • Begin at the top of Ocean Beach's watershed to collect and slow down runoff to help prevent flooding of low lying areas in the commercial zone.
  • Demonstrate how impact development can reduce urban runoff, improving water supply, allowing for better flood control.
  • Providing examples of how low impact development in Ocean Beach can increase green space and community beautification.