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A P3 Award winning student team at North Carolina A&T State University has used a permaculture project to solve a rain runoff problem on campus.
Permaculture is sustainable land use design based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. In a permaculture system the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.
North Carolina A&T State University students created a rain garden planted with native, fruiting trees, shrubs and flowers to attract wildlife, beautify the campus, remedy water pollution, and demonstrate for years to come the importance of permaculture concepts.
Rain from rooftops usually flows across lawns, picking up sediment and lawn and household chemicals, then onto pavement and gutters where it collects petroleum, heavy metals and anything else that happens to land in the street, then straight into storm drains, which feed directly into rivers or lakes where it contributes to fish kills, or to higher taxes because of the expense of treating it for use as drinking water. Although local governments know that it costs far less to prevent water pollution than to treat it, upgrading municipal infrastructures is expensive and slow, which is why rain gardens are usually undertaken by homeowners or small groups.
“Planners have always viewed rainwater as a problem, as something to be rapidly disposed of,” said Dr. Manuel Reyes, the faculty mentor for “The Greening of Sockwell” team. “Now they are beginning to see it as a resource, particularly as clean water is becoming more scarce all over the world.”
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