Coe College receives water quality grants to build permeable parking lot

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or

2016-05-17 09:48:25 - General

Coe College has received an $80,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as well as a $10,000 grant from the Linn Soil and Water Conservation District to build a permeable parking lot demonstration site as part of a $221,000 project. The new parking lot will be constructed north of Clark Racquet Center and adjacent to Clark Field on the Coe campus.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship grant is funded through the Water Quality Initiative, while the Linn Soil and Water Conservation grant is funded through the REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) program.

The project will incorporate permeable pavers as part of campus improvements to reduce the water runoff, which currently drains directly into adjacent Cedar Lake. This project complements larger scale efforts and partnerships that are working toward incorporation of additional area stormwater best management practices. This aligns with the overall goals of improving Cedar Lake water quality and restoration efforts in the Cedar Rapids area. Construction will take place over the summer of 2016.

As it is close to sporting venues, the 240 feet by 150 feet parking lot will be used for event parking as well as student parking. The proposed lot will replace parking spaces that will be eliminated from the current Eby Fieldhouse parking lot when the college's new performance arena is constructed over the next two years.

The grants were proposed by Coe Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Marty St. Clair, who along with his students, works extensively on water quality issues in the Cedar River basin.

"We anticipate that implementation of this permeable parking lot will result in the diversion of over three-quarters of a million gallons of runoff water per year,” said St. Clair. "Reducing runoff in favor of infiltration will also improve water quality by reducing the direct flushing of street pollutants into Cedar Lake, as well as cooling runoff."

Coe has been increasingly incorporating the best stormwater practices into campus development and construction. Projects currently in place include a rain garden to absorb a portion of the Hickok Hall roof runoff, a rain garden in the Clark Alumni House garden, and the installation of the 2015 senior class gift of a permeable paver patio near the campus quad. In addition, Coe has participated with the Iowa State University Community Design Lab's (CDL) Agricultural Urban Toolkit on campus design planning.

Coe College is committed to environmentally friendly practices and sustainability. As an educational institution, Coe recognizes its responsibility to provide leadership in this area. To view all of the college's environmental and sustainability initiatives and innovations in recycling, energy conservation, food conservation, water conservation, education and co-curricular programs, go to:

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.

This year, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced 13 urban conservation water quality initiative demonstration projects—including the Coe project—that have been selected to receive $978,149 in funding. In addition to the state funds, the 13 projects will provide over $2.59 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.