Grungy Groundwater

Developed by Prof. Heidi Nepf and Prof. Trish Culligan


Grungy Groundwater is a hands-on activity that challenges students to discover how water and pollutants move underground, and how pollutants impact drinking water supplies in their community. During the activity, students first explore how fluids travel through different soil types. In the second part of the activity, the students construct a model of the subsurface and use it to investigate the migration of water and pollutants underground.

The activity ends with a discussion of how a community might respond after discovering contamination in their drinking wells. The activity is offered through the MIT Edgerton Outreach Program, directed by Amy Fitzgerald. This center hosts over 2000 students a year from public schools and community groups.

MIT Open House

April 23, 2016

Urban Constructed Wetlands

Developed by PIS Prof. Alan Berger (DUSP), Prof. Heidi Nepf, and Celina Balderas Guzman

Photo Credits: Gary Lei

With funding from the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab, a team of MIT designers, urban planners, and engineers are exploring the use of constructed wetlands as a storm water solution in cities, and more broadly the use of wetlands as green infrastructure that provide water re-use, water quality enhancement, flood protection, and public green space within a city. In this activity we describe the ongoing design study and visitors participate in a hands-on experiment to compare the hydrodynamic performance of different wetland designs chosen by the visitors.

Infrastructure for Green Cities: Designing Urban Constructed Wetlands

Led by Celina Balderas Guzman and Heidi Nepf

Photo Credits: Celina Balderas Guzman

Storm water increasingly threatens cities with water quality problems and flooding. Constructed wetlands are a popular type of green infrastructure intended to collect, treat, and store storm water from urban watersheds. As a large-scale landscape, they have the potential to perform not just hydrologic functions, but also urban design and ecological functions. This workshop will bring together teams of urban designers (planners or architects) and engineers to jointly develop innovative urban wetlands using parametric design techniques and fluid dynamics testing. The design challenge is to combine the intentional manipulation of water with other urban functions, showing sensitivity to the surrounding urban context. The teams will fabricate scaled models of their designs and test their water treatment performance in the Nepf Lab.