STEM LectureBioretention planters are a part of the network of stormwater management devices used to store rainwater and filter runoff that flows into the nearby American River. (Sacramento State/Morgan Murphy)

Sacramento State’s innovative stormwater devices – bioretention planters, rain gardens, and compost-amended bioswales – are the subject of the next STEM Scholars Lecture.

Civil Engineering Professor John Johnston and Office of Water Programs research engineer Maureen Kerner will present their talk, “Stormwater as a Resource: Sustainable Projects at Sacramento State," at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, in the University Union, Redwood Room. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Johnston serves as a technical advisor on stormwater issues for the Office of Water Programs at Sacramento State. Kerner’s work involves the implementation of stormwater best-management practices, particularly low-impact development (LID).

The pair will talk about the stormwater LID devices installed throughout the campus last fall and the evaluation of the devices’ specially engineered soil.

The $3.3 million LID project was funded in part by the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Proposition 84 Stormwater Grant Program and carried out by the Office of Water Programs.

“The new stormwater devices are performing well – collecting, infiltrating, and treating runoff as they were designed to,” Kerner reports. “The ponded water that remains after storms is intentional, as it promotes infiltration in the underlying soils. 

“The ponded water is infiltrating within 48 hours after the storm’s end as designed, with the exception of one device that is under evaluation for future mitigation. We are currently monitoring flow volumes and pollutant loads to quantify actual performance,” she says.

The data evaluation report will be released in a few months.

In addition to removing pollutants from stormwater, the LID devices reduce the amount of runoff discharged into the American River, preventing erosion and replenishing campus groundwater supplies for irrigation.

The primary goals of the Center for STEM Excellence are to strengthen the quality of STEM education and research at Sacramento State, and to increase the number of students graduating in STEM disciplines to meet local and national workforce needs. For more on the University’s STEM program, visit or call (916) 278-2789. – Dixie Reid