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Staking out Solutions

Students put sustainability ideas to the test

On a rainy March afternoon, environmental science major Jacob Constans stands knee-deep in a muddy creek bed that flows through a local farm.

Located about 15 miles south of campus, the farm grows produce for Portland State’s dining services.

Constans and two other students, Bobby Nuvolini and Jonah Horn, got permission from the farmer to build and plant a 100-foot bioswalea vegetated channel to filter farm runoff into the creek, which flows into the Tualatin River. Today, they measure and mark the project area with stakes and take baseline water samples.

“It’s great to be out here and apply what we’re learning in the field,” Constans says.

The project is one of 13 selected for the 2012 Solutions Generator, which funds student ideas to make campus and community more sustainable.

Once the bioswale is constructed, the students will compare levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water above and below the bioswale to gauge its effectiveness at filtering pollution. They will monitor the project through 2014.

“We hope to demonstrate that this is a system other farmers can use.”

Now in its third year, the Solutions Generator is offered by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU. Other selected projects include a new campus composting system, community orchard, and bicycle track.

Read more about the bioswale project »
Explore all of the 2012 Solutions Generator projects »