Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.19
Liaison Justin Mog
Submission Date Feb. 13, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Louisville
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Russell Barnett
Kentucky Institute for the Environment & Sustainable Development
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Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Beargrass Falls Environmental Park

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

This innovative interdisciplinary collaboration between the University of Louisville (particularly UofL’s Kentucky Institute for the Environment & Sustainable Development and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and a variety of government agencies and community groups has helped turn Louisville’s polluted urban watershed into a living laboratory for exploring sustainable solutions and educating the public.
The Beargrass Falls Water Treatment Plant project is studying the feasibility of using a sustainable water treatment concept as an off-stream enhancement of urban stream water quality. The high-visibility project was designed to preclude the use of fossil fuels or any chemicals in the process of cleaning up the stream. The project is installed at a new environmental park for public education on water conservation, storm water runoff reduction and sustainable power sources. Since installation in the spring of 2014, educational sessions have been conducted on an on-going basis with students from local schools at all grade levels and also to the general public.
With this experimental system designed by researchers at UofL, water is pumped directly from Beargrass Creek using a solar powered pump. Water is stored in a 1200-gallon tank located 25 feet above the stream and allowed to flow through four separate filtering systems testing the effectiveness of different combinations of naturally available materials. A post filtration mechanism exposes the water to sunlight by passing it through an open channel setting. The water then flows back into the creek over a waterfall that naturally oxygenates the water before it returns to the Creek.

The filtering system that worked best was a sand filter with a biofilm (Schmutzdecke) with a disinfectant trough painted with white paint to enhance UV filtration through the water column. Bacteria reductions (e.coli) were achieved in the 90-95% range.

Beargrass Falls is located at Karen Lynch Park, a Jefferson county park located in District 9, Louisville, Kentucky. Ninth District Louisville Metro Council Member Tina Ward-Pugh, Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) Executive Director Greg Heitzman, UofL researcher Russ Barnett, and others came together dedicate the site on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2014.

Beargrass Creek, which drains 61 square miles of Metro Louisville, has three forks—Muddy, Middle and South—that empty into the Ohio River. Much of the land in this watershed has been paved or built upon, and pollution and bacteria has built up in the stream for decades.

The goals of the park, located next to MSD’s Beargrass Creek Pump Station, are to improve water quality in the creek, serve as a site for environmental research, show people how to make sustainable choices and offer a model for other neighborhoods, its founders say.

Besides Louisville Metro’s Ninth District, MSD and UofL, the Butchertown Neighborhood Association, WaterStep, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, Louisville Metro Parks, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service, Get Outdoors Kentucky, Youth Build Louisville, University of Kentucky and others have contributed to the park’s development.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/0rAjktmbXU4
Photos from the dedication on Earth Day 2014: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uofl/sets/72157644238250322/
Student using solar energy to purify water (UofL Today, Apr 23, 2014): http://louisville.edu/uofltoday/campus-news/student-using-solar-energy-to-purify-water
Local media coverage: UofL Students Help Restore Beargrass Creek (Courier-Journal, April 18, 2014): http://www.courier-journal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2014/04/18/beargrass-creek-restoration/7876153/

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.