Protecting Our Streams

The UK Stormwater program has implemented a wide breadth of projects and BMPs to protect water quality and meet its MS4 permit obligations. This includes multiple stream restoration projects and the installation of rain gardens, green roofs, new trees, water harvesting systems, and more. Several of these projects are highlighted below.


Big Elm Fork Stream Restoration

In 2015, UK completed a major stormwater management and stream restoration project along Alumni Drive funded by a $12M FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant. Big Elm Fork, a small stream that flows parallel to Alumni Drive, drains water from a highly impervious watershed that includes the football stadium, acres of parking lots, and parts of Alumni Drive and Nicholasville Road. To reduce stormwater runoff volume and pollutant transport, several steps were taken. The stream channel was excavated and rebuilt to reconnect the stream to its floodplain, increasing instream water storage and reducing erosive stormflows. Multiple acre-feet of underground storage tanks were constructed underneath new parking lots near the stadium and next to the Greg Page Stadium View apartment complex, detaining and slowly releasing stormwater. Three green detention basins planted with native vegetation were constructed upstream of Big Elm Fork to help reduce peak flows entering the stream. Check out this story map to learn more about the project:


Alumni Stream Restoration/Bioswale/Median Planting

In 2019, UK implemented a second major stream restoration project on a different creek along Alumni Drive that flows into West Hickman Creek. This project was intended to reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality, and provide an outdoor classroom for UK students and the Commonwealth. In addition to the stream channel construction, a bioswale and riparian buffer were constructed in the median to slow and improve stormwater draining from Alumni Drive and flowing into the restored stream.


  • Tree Efforts on Campus
    • TreeMap Link
    • Tree Campus USA
    • Mulch Madness
    • Urban Forest Initiative- Campus related information
  • Stormwater Harvesting Project
    • Jacobs Science Building- roofwater and condensate
    • Research Building 2-
    • Student Center-
    • Utilities & Energy Management- Stormwater and Groundwater from LFUCG stormline for use in cooling towers
  • Steam Weeding Project

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have partnered with UK Grounds to investigate the potential to use saturated steam for controlling weeds in various settings across campus. Initially, the steam weed control program will be used to address invasive wintercreeper in the UK Arboretum. It will also be utilized and evaluated for efficacy for controlling weeds in ornamental beds and for controlling turfgrass in areas where new plantings are being established. The saturated steam weed control project seeks to evaluate the potential use of non-chemical means of weed control to reduce the risk of water quality and human impacts from herbicide use.


Gluck Planting/Goose Control Efforts

The Gluck Equine Research Center is fronted by a pond that has historically been surrounded by lawn and served as an attractive spot for Canada geese to gather. Geese prefer open environments, so dozens of trees and a large native wildflower garden were planted around the pond to beautify the campus, protect water quality, and reduce the number of geese. Excess geese produce abundant waste that is transported by stormwater runoff, increasing nutrient and pathogen pollution in receiving waters. This is done in partnership with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Wildlife Services.