Runoff causes pollution in lots


Editorial Board

Issue: Parking lots destroy green space and cause water pollution.

Parking is traditionally a hot topic on campus and this week was no exception. The Landscape Architecture Club added a new dimension during a peaceful demonstration on Sept. 18.

The club turned three spots in the east Union parking lot into a green space. They laid out sod, wood chips and potted plants. Their effort was part of PARKing day 2009, an annual event designed to raise awareness of parking lot impacts and showcases alternative designs that can improve those spaces.

Hansen Hall residents directly felt the impact of parking lots when their green area was removed to create more vehicle spaces for dorm residents. Many students living there were not happy with this decision. But the administration argued it was necessary to accommodate all the parking permits that had been sold.

Besides losing a valuable recreation area, the new lot creates a large environmental footprint. Green grass that soaked up rain and cooled the surrounding area was replaced by soon-to-be asphalt that could potentially raise local temperatures, increase rainfall runoff, lead to surface water pollution and be barren to life in general. Asphalt is quick to collect grease, dust, and other pollutants from traffic. Even a very light rain could dump these undesirable elements into the storm sewer system and from there to creeks and rivers. The pollutant load they carry is damaging to the stream ecosystems.

Parking lots can incorporate certain features that reduce their environmental impact. Leaving small areas dedicated to trees results in more shade and cooler temperatures. Directing runoff from the lots into vegetated basins set below the lot grade helps filter pollution and reduces overall runoff. These basins contain a mix of grass, shrubs and trees and can be placed either in the parking lot or on its exterior.

SDSU seems to pride itself on creating and maintaining an aesthetic and environmentally friendly campus. Much time, thought and effort has been put into the design the new buildings cropping up all over campus.

Extending this philosophy to include parking lots could change SDSU’s landscape dramatically for the better.

Stance: Administration needs to consider alternative parking lot designs that are more environmentally friendly.