Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.39
Liaison Brian Liechti
Submission Date March 4, 2020

STARS v2.2

Warren Wilson College
OP-22: Rainwater Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Margo Flood
Sustainability Project Coordinator
Finance and Administration
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Which of the following best describes the institution’s approach to rainwater management?:
Comprehensive policies, plans or guidelines that require LID practices for all new projects

A brief description of the institution’s green infrastructure and LID practices:

While the institution does not have any official policies on stormwater treatment, we do have a set of principles the campus adopted in 1999 (see below) to guide our work. For green infrastructure, we install stormwater management systems when any new construction is undertaken on campus. All new construction in the past 14 years has been accompanied by extensive stormwater management plans as almost all new construction in the past 14 years has been LEED-certified buildings which require storm management plans. Current stormwater treatment systems are maintained so that they are properly functioning. And, we are fully engaged in implementing new stormwater management plans on our land via an innovative, stream mitigation project that supports our LID practices. See the website URL in Optional Fields below for a description of this important project.

A copy of the institution’s rainwater management policy, plan, and/or guidelines:

A brief description of the institution’s rainwater management policy, plan, and/or guidelines that supports the responses above:

Our Pattern Language principle for Stormwater Management, approved through shared governance in 1999, is as follows: "Stormwater that is not controlled can have a devastating effect in a mountain environment. Measures such as well-defined drainage, stormwater filtration and detention should be taken to reduce the impact of impervious surfaces." We are guided by this principle as we manage campus stormwater.

As an example of our commitment to this principle, Warren Wilson College has developed a major project to restore campus streams to their original meanders and natural courses. In the 1920s, many of the streams and creeks that used to meander through Warren Wilson College’s current farm fields were channelized, tiled and put underground for agricultural purposes—a common practice at the time. “Right now, what happens when you get these rains, it’s just a straight pipe of sediment going down into the river,” according to Warren Wilson's Dean of Land Resources, Dr. Dave Ellum. “By putting in meanders, some berms, and planting trees, we’ll be able to settle out some of that sediment again.” The project involves restoring 11,455 linear feet of the college’s streams to their natural meanders, removing invasive species, enhancing streams and planting about 25,000 trees including edible products such as pawpaw and persimmon.The project will help improve water quality in the Swannanoa River, reduce sediment load, diversify and improve wildlife habitat, improve the farm infrastructure and increase the aesthetics of the campus. “The largest impact of the project is the establishment of planted riparian buffers around the restored streams,” said Worth Creech, vice president-Southeast of Restoration Systems. Restoration Systems is a third-party company that is doing the work. “These vegetated areas provide a lasting water quality benefit immediately for the Swannanoa and ultimately the French Broad River. Reduced nutrient and sediment loads into these receiving waters means a healthier ecosystem all around.” The project is also funded in part through stream mitigation credits that the government purchased to offset the negative effects of construction for the I-26 connector project currently underway in Asheville. Regulated by the Clean Water Act, stream mitigation banking allows developers to offset the ecological impacts of their construction projects through buying credits from third-party companies that are then used to restore wetlands and streams elsewhere.

Warren Wilson College has placed conservation easements on the affected lands to protect them as stream buffers once the project is complete. Ellum said the project provides many educational opportunities for students, both while the project is happening and after it is complete.

Website URL where information about the institution’s green infrastructure and LID practices is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data for this report was gathered from interviews with the Dean of Land Resources, Land Managers and existing College documents.

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.