Center for Water and the Environment

Urban Storm Water: Dr. Matiasek’s Student Team Investigates Sustainable Storm Water Management

Dr. Sandrine Matiasek was awarded Phase 1 and Phase 2 grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lead an interdisciplinary team of CSU, Chico students to research urban stormwater biofiltration technology for small urban areas like Chico. 

The CSU, Chico team is comprised of students majoring in biology, chemistry and environmental science. Using the CWE laboratory as the staging ground for their research, the students are testing green infrastructure methods for filtering urban storm water runoff in order to reduce the impact of sediments, pesticides, metals and other pollutants on local aquatic ecosystems.

"Biofiltration is a really relevant area of research and a promising, sustainable solution for dealing with urban storm runoff, especially up here in the North State where we deal with strong storm events in the winter,” said Sandrine Matiasek, CWE Faculty Associate, Associate Professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, and Principal Investigator for this project.

The project, titled “Evaluating Biofiltration in Small Urban Areas: Chico, California Case Study,” tests the effectiveness of biofiltration using soil, sand, compost, and native, drought resistant plants. The team is also investigating sustainable soil amendments including biochar, drinking water treatment residuals, and iron to improve stormwater treatment in biofilters. Matiasek said that their research explores relatively new territory in regards to testing and adapting sustainable filtration processes.

“What this project is trying to do is bring in science to back up this new solution to dealing with storm runoff," Matiasek said. “The goal is to fill in a gap in knowledge. Large urban areas are already required to deal with storm runoff. So far, it hasn't really been implemented for small urban areas because of cost."

Matiasek added that on top of gaining experience in biofiltration research, the student team is also partnering with local organizations to develop biofilters. The students research team is supported by Center for Water and the Environment on campus, with support from Facilities Management Services to acquire soil samples.

Reference: This article adapted for CWE website from CSU, Chico news article:
Students Awarded Grant to Develop Sustainable Storm Water Filters(opens in new window)