The environmental engineers at the University of Maryland received an award of 1.4 million dollar grant in order to come up with a design that will help destroy and soil bacteria.
What is the project about
This project will take place during a three year period and it’s being funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, which is the Defense Department’s environmental science and technology program. This project will use data from three of the Defense Department’s sites but the team that is working on it is hoping that this new design will be used by every state.
The three sites that will be used are bases used by the military in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., along with the Joint Base Lewis-McChord that is around Tacoma, Washington.
What is its goal
Birthe Kjellerup went on to say that the goal of this adventurous project is purified stormwater before it leaves the sites provided by the Defense Department. What are some of the contaminants that she is referring to? They are PCBs (industrial and chemical products created by man) and copper.
The main focus point of this project is to create an environmentally friendly purifying program, that would collect all the waste in the water. Kjellerup said that, for her, working on this project is highly interesting. Since she is an environmental microbiologist she finds it very interesting to analyze this process. The bacteria that they would be using to trap the contaminants are going to feed on them which would mean that there would be no chemical waste.
Allen Davis said that the design could like somewhat like a rain garden or a filter that would capture the chemicals. There is no clear design in place yet.
At the moment, the team of researchers doesn’t clearly know how the contaminants associate over time with particles that are something other than stormwater. Kjellerup is confident that this project will change that.
Charles Schwarts, civil and environmental engineering department chair and the professor said that the university sees receiving this grant as a huge opportunity for continuing to develop and create new alternatives that tie into environmental research. He believes that this grant is a win for both the university and the department.
The steps of this project
The first step is going to be collecting all the already existing data on contaminants in stormwater and the collection of samples. This would help the researchers gain some knowledge on how these contaminants stay in the soil along with stormwater. A ditch across from Xfinity Center is going one of the team’s sample training areas.
The next step would be the discussion on how the design is going to work out. One of the sites is on the West Coast which is known for having intense storm while the other is on the East Coast. The design would therefore have to flexible enough to accommodate both types of precipitation.
The University of Maryland is going to collaborate with the University of Washington Tacoma during this project, allowing practitioners in the field to come and share ideas in the hopes that the ideas that will come out will better the project as a whole.
Christopher Streb, a Biohabitats ecological engineer, said that he is very excited about this collaboration between practitioners in the field and a team of academic researchers.