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The Spill: Utilizing the Active Method to Combat the Growing Combined Sewer Overflow Epidemic
Morgan A. Burke, Student ASLA, Allison Harness, Student ASLA, and Yi Hong, Student ASLA

Purdue University
Advisors: Kim Wilson, ASLA, Loring Nies

Narrative Summary
This study, undertaken as an independent research study by three students, was an effort to develop a new approach to handling urban stormwater runoff. In creating a new method of handling stormwater, the amount of dangerous combined sewer overflows that occur in Chicago could be minimized. The students chose an interdisciplinary approach and formed a project team of two landscape architecture students and one civil engineering student. Their ultimate goal was to create an approach to handle stormwater in an environmentally efficient, economically positive and aesthetically pleasing manner. Using Loyola University’s Water Tower and Lake Shore campuses in Chicago as study areas, the students designed and modeled an innovative approach to stormwater management, called the Active Method. This method employs natural infiltration to increase the time it takes runoff to reach the combined sewer; as well as, microbial activity to attenuate stormwater so that it can be reused on site. The system benefits municipalities by decreasing the number of combined sewer overflows and limiting wastewater treatment costs. Finally, the system is designed as civic infrastructure responding to the context of its surroundings and creates a new environmental and educational amenity for the community.

Over the course of the semester, the students were engaged in several activities in an attempt to find an approach that addresses the problem. Data collection included student interviews of various professionals (city officials and wastewater treatment superintendents) that were involved in wastewater handling and treatment. From these interviews, guidelines were developed based on the professional’s needs to drive the synthesis phase of the project. During this phase, the students created several iterations of the project’s function and design. Concurrently, several hydrological models were generated to evaluate and support the project’s hypothesis. The students reviewed these iterations with various university scholars in fields of urban design, soil science; as well as, hydrological and civil engineering. Finally, after data collection and synthesis, the students were able to produce the final solution. The research project and its application was presented to Facilities Administrators at Loyola University. Loyola is currently considering building a portion of the project so that physical research of the design can be conducted to ascertain the impact of the stormwater management strategy called the Active Method.



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