Olsson Associates


Using creativity in stormwater study helps Colorado State University reduce construction and maintenance costs

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Amber Kauffman, PE, CFM

Going beyond the usual engineering approach to comply with city detention requirements allowed Olsson Associates to come up with an unexpected solution for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital Complex at the Colorado State University (CSU) south campus in Fort Collins.

When CSU changed its master plan layout for its 95-acre south campus, the city’s stricter detention requirements were automatically triggered. Olsson was asked by CSU to review layout options, evaluate the stormwater system, and determine stormwater detention compliance requirements.

However, with animal holding and feeding areas on campus and stormwater discharge only one-quarter mile from Spring Creek, our team felt that water quality was truly the most important issue.

A typical approach to complying with detention requirements would have been to perform hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and use the results to recommend the standard amount of detention that would be needed. However, our team looked beyond the initial study results and policy requirements and asked the question, “How do these data apply in the real world?” And in fact, after studying the data, we discovered that the 100-year storm event peak flows from the campus to the creek occurred well before the 100-year peak flows in the creek itself. Therefore, the campus master plan changes had no detrimental effect on the runoff rates basin-wide.

This additional analysis indicated that new detention was not needed, and CSU’s resources could be focused on water quality. Our conclusion, which CSU and the City of Fort Collins agreed to, allows CSU to proceed with our unique suggestion for the design of stormwater treatment facilities. This will make the best use of the limited amount of land available on the campus and reduce construction and maintenance costs.

It was gratifying to find a solution for CSU that allowed them to focus their limited resources on water quality instead of unnecessary, additional detention. Call us at 970.461.7733 if we can help provide a creative approach to resolving your infrastructure needs.

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