A constant deluge of rain last week laid bare some clear problems with the layout of the University of Connecticut. Simply put, there is a lot of flooding on campus. In many areas, water pools quite quickly even when the rain is not heavy. Not only can this be inconvenient to students (especially those without a good pair of rain boots), but it can also lead to other repercussions. It can make a mess by washing mulch or other debris across walkways. Any flooding can also have harmful impacts on the environment, including waterlogging soil. Furthermore, the structural damage to sidewalks under constant flooding can be severe, especially in certain conditions.
These negative effects all occur because the original designers of the campus did a less than perfect job. The drainage is not great, and the walkways are often lower than their surroundings. This is the main reason that water gathers in certain areas. It’s not the only mistake that designers made. Many have referred to the campus as being built like a wind tunnel, as there are consistently strong winds.
The question, therefore, is how important is this issue and what can be done? Granted, the flooding isn’t the biggest problem in the world. The largest risk is probably to the walkways: if water gets in cracks and then freezes overnight, the structure can start to break apart. It would be better to fix this sooner rather than later, because there may be some serious long-term problems.
That said, it would be a difficult issue to tackle right now. Aside from financial problems with university funding, students are sick and tired of construction projects. Many recent and current projects have led to detours for students, which are often a problem when facing inclement weather. Recent changes to bus routes also mean students will be hit harder than before by any detours.
For now, the university would do well to monitor this problem, and develop a plan to address it. If there is an existing strategy, it can then be implemented at an opportune time when the financial outlook is brighter and half of campus isn’t already undergoing construction. It would also be beneficial to make an effort to perform as much work in the summer to cut down on logistical issues. Until then, students will just have to make sure they have a decent pair of boots ready for any excursions in the rain.
Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.