Due to rapid development and faulty design, a number of institutions and municipalities nationwide are in violation of EPA stormwater regulations. While the University of Maine finds itself in a similar situation, with stormwater runoff from a number of sources across campus to the Stillwater river, it is in a unique position to take advantage of its educational mission and community commitment to generate a low-cost, educational, and community-driven solutions. Maine and the Northeast boast extensive fresh and salt water ecosystems, concentrated human settlements, significant larger old and new industrial sites, and large road infrastructures that drain directly into our water systems. Additionally, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides associated with large-scale agricultural operations including blueberry, potato and vegetable cultivation and livestock provide additional organic and inorganic loads. The economic, cultural and ecological impacts on wildlife, fisheries and tourism are serious and significant.
Unfortunately, energy intensive and expensive heroic solutions to simple problems have become routine in both Maine and the nation. Further, current heroic methods are clearly not working. Wildlife, fisheries, shellfish, plant and animal communities have suffered from overdevelopment and largely unsustainable activities carried on by humanity with inadequate systems to provide mitigation and insufficient regulation of emissions.
Program Overview & Objectives
The Permaculture Design Research Initiative (PDRI), provides a low-cost distributed solution utilizing constructed wetland technologies, bioremediation and biomimicry to model on-site treatment while providing food production. The PDRI will assemble an interdisciplinary team consisting of artists, engineers, researchers and community members whose common goal will be to 1) promote public education and involvement with the issue and its proposed solutions, and 2) develop a permaculture design document that meets all of the Maine DEP guidelines for stormwater design and management, and simultaneously produces food, habitat, clean water, ground water recharge, reduced flooding and erosion, reduced toxins in wildlife, and improves water quality, timing and turbidity.
The PDRI document will then be submitted for further funding for actual implementation of the plan by a similar team of artists, engineers, researchers and community members. The goal is to produce hands-on solutions for community ecosystem problems using the research and learning resources of the university.
The PDRI plan consists of four phases:
1) research BMP and permaculture solutions to stormwater filtration and remediation consistent with the proposed site and goals,
2) gather an interdisciplinary team of artists, engineers, researchers and community members to work on the project,
3) evaluate the site, and collate data about seasonal water run-off, toxins in water, soil testing, site survey, current flora and fauna, and appropriate species to introduce,
4) develop a design document for site remediation that will include a detailed landscape drawing, list of local resources, appropriate species list, and a suggested timeline for implementation.
A number of these phases are already underway. Photos of the site show some of the past projects conducted by university students and faculty, elementary students (Wassokeag homeschool), and community members (many from LongGreenHouse project).
New Media Dept.
400 Chadbourne Hall
University of Maine 04469-5751