It’s been nearly two years since work began on a 5.5-acre pond on Duke University’s west campus in Durham, North Carolina. But it’s not just any pond—it’s a water reclamation pond designed to save 100 million gallons of potable water a year. The pond will collect rainwater and runoff from 22% of the Blue Devils’ main campus. Duke’s Chilled Water Plant, adjacent to the reclamation area, will use this water to cool the buildings on campus.
When I first read about this effort back in November 2013, completion seemed a long way off. Progress has been slow but steady. Recent estimates project completion by May 2015.
My excitement is mounting! In addition to its environmental benefits, such as water conservation, reduction of storm water run-off, as well as improved storm water quality, the 12-acre space will include a boardwalk, a pavilion, a nearly one-mile walking trail, and an amphitheater with lawn seating. Many of the trees originally cleared from the site were milled for use in building these structures.
Recent rainfall has filled the pond to a depth of nearly ten feet in some areas. To date, landscapers have installed 41,000 native plants—and counting! When completed, the green space will be home to 21 different types of shrubs, 40 species of herbaceous plants, and over 1,800 trees. Maples, redbuds, cedars, and magnolias will be among the 60 tree species planted. Altogether, the landscaping is designed to withstand both wet and dry conditions and blend into the existing Duke Forest.
Here’s a picture of the reclamation pond, taken on 15 February 2015:
Check back later this spring, when I hope to have pictures of a completed and thriving natural showcase.