On July 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a prize contest started in 2012 to encourage innovative approaches to stormwater management.

Every time it rains, urban stormwater carries bacteria, nutrients, heavy metals and other pollutants into the nation’s waters, impacting tens of thousands of miles of rivers, streams and coastal shorelines, as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds. At the same time, growing urban areas and shifting climate patterns are increasing the risk of both flooding and drought.

EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge will engage the next generation of urban planners, designers and engineers in the development of innovative green infrastructure systems to meet the nation’s growing water infrastructure needs. EPA is inviting student teams to design an innovative green infrastructure project for a location on their campus. Student teams will work with a faculty advisor to submit design boards, a project narrative, and a letter of support describing their project.

Teams will compete in one of two design categories: a demonstration project category or a master plan category. The demonstration project category calls for proof-of-concept level designs for a particular site on the team’s campus, while the master plan category calls for conceptual designs for a broader area of campus.

EPA will select first- and second-place winners in each category. Winners will earn student prizes of $1000-$2000 to be divided evenly among student team members, and faculty prizes of $2000-$3000 to support green infrastructure research or training.

EPA also is considering whether to conduct a grant competition involving Challenge participants. Grant funding could be made available to help carry out green infrastructure demonstration projects based on student designs. If EPA decides to pursue a grant competition, further information will be provided.

Registration for the 2014 Challenge opens Sept. 2 and ends Oct. 3. Registrants must submit their entries by Dec. 19. EPA will announce winning entries in April 2015. For more information visit www.epa.gov/campusrainworks.