Quantifying the Efficiency of Rain Gardens

Picture of a rain garden along a sidewalk on Niagara Street in Buffalo, New York.

Rain gardens are being built all over the city of Buffalo to capture storm water, but we have limited data on their performance. 

Project description

The City of Buffalo has a combined sewer system that route both gray water and storm water into the same pipe. During large rain events this storm water ends up causing the combined sewer pipes to discharge to local streams. In order to fix this problem, the City of Buffalo has installed rain gardens along roadways to capture storm water before it gets into the combined sewer systems. These rain gardens are small vegetative areas that promote the infiltration of water into the ground. Rain gardens are a key tool to reduce storm water run-off and improve water quality. However, limited research has focused on how effective these rain gardens are in promoting infiltration. Through the quantification of the infiltration capacity in local rain gardens we hope to help the City of Buffalo optimize their system. Our research group is looking for a student to join our team and help us catalog these rain gardens and then quantify the infiltration capacity. 

Project outcome

The project outcomes will include:

  • A database of rain garden types
  • Quantification of the infiltration capacity, which will be added to the database
  • A poster of the final results

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About 10-12 months
Start time Anytime
In-person, remote, or hybrid? In-person
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Research experience; academic credit
Who is eligible All undergraduate students who have taken an introductory hydrology or hydrogeology course.

Core partners

  • UB Hydrogeology Group
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Buffalo Sewer Authority

Project mentor

Chris Lowry

Associate Professor

Geological Sciences

413 Cooke Hall

Phone: (716) 645-4266

Email: cslowry@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

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Geological Sciences