In 2007, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued the first Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in the country based not on a specific pollutant or pollutants, but on impervious cover (IC) (Arnold et al., 2010). The water body in question was Eagleville Brook, a small tributary of the Willimantic River in eastern Connecticut that drains a majority of the University of Connecticut campus. The university is in effect a small city within a largely rural area. Partly as a result of this, there has been a history of “town-gown” tension and controversy with regard to the university's impact on the water resources of the area. This tension reached a climax in September 2005, when a quarter-mile stretch of the Fenton River, which drains the part of campus not in the Eagleville watershed, ran dry (Merritt, 2005). Water quantity concerns were frequently joined by water quality concerns, with area residents complaining about the pollution of their drinking water (Morse, 2002).
Although the Fenton incident precipitated increased efforts on the part of the university to conserve water, efforts to improve the way that campus addressed stormwater issues lagged behind until the advent of the impervious cover TMDL. In the intervening eight years since the issuance of the “IC-TMDL” - practically the wink of an eye in the deliberate world of land use decision making - the University of Connecticut campus has become a showcase for green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices, also known as low impact development (LID) practices.
While the IC-TMDL served as the catalyst, an environmental regulation, no matter how innovative, cannot in itself produce such dramatic change. For this to occur a number of interconnected efforts have to come together, including leadership, research, monitoring, coordination, and education both within and without the university community. This paper is an attempt to capture these key elements, consider why they worked (or didn't), and provide a status report on green stormwater infrastructure on the University of Connecticut campus.