By Alka Tyagi–

University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees Finance Committee had been hard at work for its students. At their meeting early March, capital construction projects to improve storm water drainage on the Belknap Campus were approved. The project aims to diminish flooding and divert storm water from sewers.

Larry Owsley, U of L’s vice president of business affairs, said, that the project was “part of a series of projects” designed to reduce water flow into sewer systems. The work is expected to cost about $1.1 million and would be funded by the Metropolitan Sewer District, as they are “under a court order to reduce the amount of storm water that goes into the sewer system,” said Mr. Owsley.

Over the years, Louisville has been experiencing a vast array of weather. In the summer of 2009, a massive flood hit U of L’s Belknap campus.

“Miller Hall, the freshman dorm, had been closed the first two weeks of that semester,” said Krupa Patel, junior liberal studies major. “I had to move all of my belongings to West Hall, which was on a completely different side of campus for those weeks.When practicing for marching band, we would utilize Center Hall, as the Music School had fans in the basement because of the water.”

During the flood in 2009, numerous buildings were damaged, classes were displaced and many cars were abandoned as water levels were too high for travel. According to the university’s official report, about 30 employees were stranded and rescued by the Louisville Metro Swift Water Rescue Team. The university incurred $20 million worth of water damage. Buildings went without power and students suffered from the effects of the flood as well.

Owsley said that a flood similar to what U of L endured in 2009, in which half a foot of water accumulated in an hour, is “more than likely going to cause flooding regardless of what we accomplish here, but it should lessen the impact somewhat.”

According to Wesley Sydnor, a Senior technical services engineer for MSD, the drainage project is in collaboration with an EPA country-wide, “regulatory effort to keep certain waterways free of overflow from sewers and improve water quality.”

In addition to the new drainage system, several green initiatives are being implemented as well, such as the Brandeis Law School’s planned rain garden which would use vegetation to help filter rain water before it enters the sewers.

Owsley explained, “Large floods in Louisville have been known to cause water to overflow at treatment plants, ultimately creating a health problem because the sewage will spill over into the Ohio River. So, as a part of a federal program, the MSD is under order to improve that.”

According to Owsley, the affected areas will be by the Miller IT and Chemistry buildings, the Speed School complex and the Grawemeyer Hall parking lot.

The project is not anticipated to inconvenience students or faculty and will, more than likely, be completed by the start of the fall semester.

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Photo courtesy of University of Louisville Libraries