‘Bio-filters’ put in C-Midway lot to help clean run-off water

Kevin Kolus

This bio-filter rests between two rows of cars in the C-Science parking lot. BRIAN MARKS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

The new C-Midway lot where Terrace Hall once stood will provide more than just commuter parking; it also will help cleanse the environment.

Three large islands called “bio-filters” are being installed in the parking lot, grounds manager Heather White said. The islands will be filled with vegetation that will filter storm water for disposal into the Cuyahoga River.

David Cavanaugh, superintendent of Cavanaugh Building, whose company is working on C-Midway lot, said he likes the bio-filter solution to clean polluted storm water.

“It sounds like a really neat idea,” he said. “When water hits the rocks, stems, roots, it will leave the site clean.”

These filters were first implemented at the C-Science lot to aid in storm water management. The ground of the parking lot is slanted toward two islands so storm water can stream into the filters. Once water passes through the plant life, trash and other pollutants stay in the filter and the water becomes clean for dumping.

White said the bio-filtration system at the C-Science lot has been favorable.

“I think we’ve learned a lot with this one,” she said.

Bio-filters at the C-Midway lot will be constructed differently than the ones at the C-Science lot, White said. The plant life will be denser to discourage the growth of weeds. Also, bald cyprus trees, which can reach 80 feet in maturity, will be planted.

“I’m hoping at C-Midway we’ll have less maintenance because we are packing it tighter,” she said.

Kent State and the city of Kent worked together for a storm water management plan in 2002 and 2003. The bio-filters were created because of an EPA requirement to address storm water run-off, said Thomas Euclide, director of Office of the University Architect.

Michael McDonald, director of Campus Environment and Operations, said the university spends between $60,000 and $100,000 a year in storm water fees. Aside from the bio-filters, an engineered wetland was created near Campus Environment and Operations to handle storm water from Centennial Court, he said.

Kent State chose bio-filtration for parking lots because of the simplicity in maintenance and the added value of landscaping, Euclide said. The only disadvantages of the bio-filters, he said, are the reduction of potential parking spaces and additional landscaping maintenance.

White said the areas in and around the C-Midway lot are expected to receive a great amount of landscaping because the university was afraid of a bland parking lot facing Main Street. Many colorful trees and shrubs will be planted to make the region of campus where Terrace Hall once stood more attractive.

“We’re presenting a softer face to the city of Kent,” she said. “They’re not going to be looking at just another parking lot.”

White also said because of the importance of the bio-filters and the maintenance they involve, she does not want people walking through them.

Contact building and grounds reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].