Chicago, Illinois – On Saturday, September 21, over 150 young professionals and school volunteers gathered for the annual Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Student and Young Professionals Community (SYPC) Service Project at the Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Chicago. This year’s project was to re-envision the entrance into the Academy and improve stormwater management. The entryway into the school is often underwater when it rains, leaving many wet feet on the 800+ students.
With over 200 volunteers serving in various capacities, the planning process for this project started well over a year ago and includes interaction and education with students in addition to planning and designing the project. A decorative yet functional pavement was installed for students to step on when they get out of vehicles. Since the school has a large number of students and only one cement walkway, a second walkway was added with a natural landscape. A new rain garden installed in the middle of the green space holds up to 3,000 gallons of water. This rain garden prevents stormwater from running down to the curb and pooling where the students are dropped off.
The goal for the WEF SYPC Community Service projects are to leave a green lasting infrastructure on the WEFTEC host city.
“I’m so impressed with how the water community and the local community came together for this project. Our dedicated planning committee teamed together with neighborhood advocates, students, and school representatives, and a hard-working crew of WEF volunteers to give Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy a project they will benefit from, enjoy, and learn from for years to come,” commented Natalie Cook, Service Project Subcommittee, and Donohue water/wastewater engineer.
“With community input, generous donors, and the hard work of our volunteers, we were able to construct a project that will not only reduce flooding and improve stormwater quality, but will also provide a beautiful space for students to enjoy," stated Michelle Madrid, Subcommittee member, and Donohue water/wastewater engineer.
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and education organization representing water quality professionals around the world with over 35,000 individual members and 75 affiliated member associations. Their mission is to “connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation.”