Managing Stormwater at Johns Hopkins University

March 1, 2013

Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Baltimore, Md., recently used a stormwater management master planning process to streamline regulatory approvals for the continued development of its 150-acre main Homewood Campus and for linking long-term stormwater investments with campus sustainability initiatives.  

The master plan approach offered a number of regulatory advantages compared with a more traditional approach. By developing a master plan and having the City’s Department of Public Works approve it, JHU may forgo individual preliminary stormwater concept-level approval for campus development projects within the master plan. The plan also enables JHU to address peak flow requirements campuswide, rather than project by project. In this way, increases in peak flow associated with one project can be offset by a commensurate decrease in peak flows for other projects, providing more flexibility in meeting peak flow requirements.  

In addition to streamlining the regulatory approvals for campus expansion projects, the master planning process also enabled JHU staff to explore opportunities for incorporating green stormwater practices into its existing campus to reduce potable water usage and landscape-associated energy consumption. For instance, the plan proposes the construction of a network of rainwater cisterns that will reduce reliance on potable water for landscape irrigation by some 3 million gallons per year. The plan also proposes converting several existing turf areas to meadow or forest cover, reducing peak flows and the need for irrigation and mowing.  

Although the core of the plan focused on identifying specific stormwater projects, JHU staff made sure that the plan also addressed operations and maintenance, design and administrative aspects of plan. It incorporated project design, maintenance and monitoring, and reporting and tracking guidance into the final plan.

To track the plan once it is put into place, JHU also created a stormwater GIS geodatabase that maps the campus’s entire existing stormwater system, including pipe networks and stormwater management practices. As stormwater projects are carried out, the GIS system will be updated with survey data for newly built projects. Custom queries and reports then enable JHU staff to generate updated statistics for internal and external reporting purposes. 

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