Thaddeus Stevens Rain Garden

    05.08.18 | TSCT News

    Lancaster, PA – Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology’s Water & Environmental program received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Agency to design and create a rain garden demonstration project.

    Last year, Governor Tom Wolf announced that 79 projects statewide are receiving almost $1.2 million in Environmental Education Grants from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology being among them.

    “Through the DEP Environmental Education Grants, Pennsylvanians of all ages gain knowledge of the natural world, appreciation for the importance of a healthy environment, and an understanding of the need for environmental protection and sound resource management,” said Governor Wolf.

    Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology's Water & Environmental Technology program is Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Agency only accredited Associate's Degree program. 

    The objective of the Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Rain Garden Demonstration project was to provide students enrolled in the Water & Environmental Technology program at Thaddeus Stevens College with a meaningful watershed education experience.

    Students were able to identify an area on Campus where stormwater management was a problem, propose a solution, complete a detailed design, and follow through with construction.

     The Stevensonians faced some challenges along the way. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT) campus is located within the City of Lancaster. Like many historic cities, areas of the City are serviced by a combined sewer system. During heavy rainstorms, the system is unable to handle the flow volumes and the system overflows, releasing untreated water directly to local waterways.

     It is estimated that the City of Lancaster’s combined system releases about 1 billion gallons of polluted water each year. Since the College has no stormwater management facility, it is a contributor to the City’s combined sewer overflow problems.

    The Water and Environmental Technology program at TSCT prepares students for work as water quality professionals in drinking and wastewater facilities. An important part of this is ensuring they have an understanding of the impacts of stormwater runoff, and stormwater mitigation techniques.

    TSCT’s WET students designed, constructed and will maintain a green infrastructure project covering an estimated 395 sq. ft. in a high-visibility area. The project will result in the infiltration of an estimated nearly 50,000 gallons of stormwater runoff per year, and provide a hands-on watershed education experience for current and future WET students.

    As of Monday, April 30th, 2018, the WET students can take a breath of fresh air and a step back to enjoy the fruition of their hard work.

    “Constructing the rain garden has been an incredibly valuable and rewarding experience.  The students identified the problem, secured grant funding, and followed through construction," says Katie Surra, Water & Environmental Professor, "through this process the students gained practical knowledge and hands-on skills that they would not have been able to acquire in the classroom.” 

     The rain garden was planted exclusively with native plant species and is designed to manage runoff from approximately 1,750 SF of roof area.

     Students gained a deeper knowledge of green infrastructure practices through involvement in every aspect of the design and construction process including drainage area delineation, infiltration testing, soil testing, and construction. Future classes of WET students will continue to benefit from the project through the development and implementation of a maintenance plan.

     To date, more than 200 middle and high school age students have been exposed to the project through Campus tours. This number will continue to grow as additional student groups visit the site.

    You can see the rain garden right in front of the Jones Dining Hall or on the side of the Mellor Building.

    This project was supported by an Environmental Education Grant from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Lancaster County Conservancy Water Week program.

    The City of Lancaster was a key partner in completing this project, providing support and guidance through-out design and construction.

    The Environmental Education Grants Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates setting aside 5 percent of the pollution fines and penalties DEP collects annually for environmental education in Pennsylvania. In its 24-year history, the program has funded more than $11 million in environmental education grants.

     To learn more about Water & Environmental Technology program, click here. 

     For more information, contact

    Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is consistently ranked as Pennsylvania’s top technical college and awards associate degrees in 22 high-demand, skilled occupations. A full listing of programs is available at