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Birmingham-Southern College receives grant for environmental model

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Birmingham-Southern College has received a $48,750 3M 2002 Vision Grant to create a Storm Water Management and Restoration of Terrain Project (SMART) that it hopes ultimately will assist with water problems for local Village Creek residents.

BSC was on of 6 colleges nationwide to receive one of the 3M grants.

SMART is an innovative environmental model and will support BSC students as they learn more about water quality issues by working on an on-campus storm water demonstration site, which will include a demonstration storm water retention basin to showcase erosion control techniques.

The SMART project will be located on a drainage area for a large part of the BSC campus that ultimately spills into Village Creek. The project will include the development of a series of cascading ponds where pollutants can be trapped and in cases eliminated entirely.

The area will serve as an outdoor laboratory for innovative courses for first-year students. One of the proposed courses, "Science, Public Policy, and the Environment," will study an urban environmental problem concerning water quality of Village Creek and provide the Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society, a local citizens group, with data analysis and proposed remedies.

According to Roald Hazelhoff, director of Birmingham-Southern's Southern Environmental Center, SMART will be a model for businesses, residences, public agencies, and other college campuses.

"During the summer, BSC students will work closely with chemistry faculty members to conduct water quality tests, analyze data, and establish scientific parameters for first-year environmental courses," explained Hazelhoff. "The Southern Environmental Center will coordinate the creation of the demonstration project and showcase the model project to thousands of schoolchildren and other visitors to the Center's interactive museum and outdoor classrooms."

Leading the classroom portion of the project will be BSC assistant professors of chemistry, Dr. Laura Stultz and Dr. Scott Dorman.

Hazelhoff said that the college also will work closely with the Village Creek residents to gain scientific and social information and sponsor educational workshops.

Since the 3M Vision Grant program's inception in 1987, more than $2.8 million has been awarded to 71 private colleges. The grants encourage faculty and students to collaborate and develop new ways of learning that connect to the community.


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