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Passaic Valley Regional Planning & Design Studio (2017)

This undergraduate Landscape Architecture studio addresses real world challenges: the development of a cohesive open space system along the Passaic River that can help reduce storm water runoff, clarify polluted water, and provide safe and easy access to the river.

The Passaic River, historically Native American lands, was an important resource for early European settlements and industrial development in Northern New Jersey, providing necessary drinking water, transportation of goods and people, and creating energy for one of the earliest industrial developments in the nation. However, the Passaic River also fell "victim" to heavy use and pollution, such as industrial production of Agent Orange in Newark. In fact, pollution in the lower portion of the river has become so severe that it has been declared a superfund site. In addition, combined sewage outlets spill raw sewage into the river when heavy rain overburdens the sewage treatment plants.

For these reasons, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC), which acted as "client" for the class, tasked students with the challenge of reducing flooding and impervious surface, utilizing green infrastructure in combination with current grey infrastructure, and finding alternative solutions to costly traditional wastewater management techniques.

To this end, students analyzed and interpreted ecological processes and real life scenarios at various scales--from regional to site specific--in various areas within the Passaic Valley Region and developed designs for sustainable solutions that address stormwater management, flood management, societal interactions, policy, planning, and zoning. Produced maps, diagrams, and designs may support future sustainability practices, regional planning decisions, and future community outreach efforts.

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