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SD-RET Research Project Example 1:

Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Development for Water Resources Protection 

Research mentors: Dr. Jennifer Benning, Jason Phillips, and Jerome Wright, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Lab Overview:  One of the greatest engineering challenges facing our society is ensuring protecting our natural resources and ensuring that we are able to provide safe and adequate supplies of water, in the face of an expanding population and increased development.  The dominant cause of surface water impairment across the United States is stormwater, which increasingly becomes a problem as we convert natural surfaces to impermeable surfaces, such as rooftops, roads, and parking lots.  For example, in Rapid City, Rapid Creek often does not meet the required Clean Water Act surface water quality criterion at several locations throughout Rapid City, particularly following storm events, despite that a significant proportion of the City of Rapid City’s economy lies in tourism and outdoor recreation. A central focus of activity includes Rapid Creek, which supports a healthy population of wild brown trout.  Additionally, Rapid Creek is the source water for Rapid Valley, a growing community of approximately 10,000 residents, located downstream of Rapid City, so the protection of the community’s source water is a critical concern. Thus, it is imperative that we develop and promote strategies that allow us to develop sustainably, in a manner that protects water resources before they become impaired.  Low impact development and green infrastructure are methods for developing while sustainably managing stormwater resources; however, these strategies have been slow to be adopted in South Dakota and there is still a need to develop regional, performance-based design standards.

SD-RET research project: The SD-RET RAs will conduct field and laboratory research on soil amendments, or various types and mixtures of compost, for water conservation and sustainable management, both in rural, agricultural settings and in urban settings, and will design low impact development strategies for stormwater management.  The teachers will have the opportunity to measure: soil hydraulic conductivity, porosity, field capacity, and infiltration for the evaluation of amended soils for agricultural water conservation, organic and roof top gardening, green roofs, and rain gardens.  These measurements will be applied to the design of low impact development projects, including a green roof installation at the Rapid City Regional Airport and at a local golf course.  The use of soil amendments provides benefits, not on in terms of water conservation and protection, but in terms of waste valorization. 

Examples of alignment to the Next Generation Science/Common Core State Standards 3, 22:

  • MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
  • 6.EE.9: Represent and analyze quantitative relationships between dependent and independent variables.

Application Process

Research Experience Teacher 

1. Submit:
CV, Vitae, Resume, Biography

2. Submit: 
1 page brief of how you will utilize this experience in your classrooms/teaching

3. Project preference:
list your top two choices

4. Submit:
Send All items to Robb Winter via email: