CHAMPAIGN — An underground retention pond will help alleviate flooding caused by ongoing development in the southwest part of the University of Illinois campus, officials say.
Work on the Ikenberry Commons and other development in that area has increased the amount of impermeable ground space — buildings and paved areas — leading to flooding problems, said Gary Miller, associate director of operations for the Division of Campus Recreation. So the campus has to create a storm retention system to accommodate excess runoff, he said.
The initial proposal from University Housing was to create a retention area — a large depression, or hole — on the playing fields west of First Street and north of Stadium Drive, Miller said. But Campus Recreation objected, saying that would eliminate the fields for student use even, Miller said.
Campus Recreation proposed building an underground retention basin similar to one used when it remodeled the old Intramural-Physical Education Building (known as IMPE) into the new Activities and Recreation Center (called ARC). The expansion paved over some green space, so the campus installed an underground retention system beneath the parking lot just west of the ARC.
Planners decided to use a similar retention system underneath the playing fields as part of its construction of the new residence hall at First and Gregory, Miller said. That system, 8 to 10 feet underground, will collect water runoff from the area around the residence halls and nearby development, he said.
"We're not inventing a new idea here," Miller said. "It's really not any different from having a depressed area where you catch water and hold it so long and then release it. It's like an underground lake."
The system can be somewhat expensive, but it's cost-effective when the land in the area is so valuable, he said.
Planners had initially considered two other spots — in the basement of one of the Ikenberry Commons buildings, or the field south of Huff Hall, said Robyn Deterding, director of Campus Recreation.
But the Huff Hall location would have required a longer run of pipes, adding to the cost, Miller said.