We research the relationship of water quality and urbanization to impact future planning.

Students led by Brad Collett wrote and published HydroLIT: Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook, a regional toolkit for water quality.

HydroLIT (short for hydrologic literacy) highlights the relationship between the quality of regional water resources—streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater—and urban, suburban and rural systems and proposes innovative water quality improvement strategies to inform future planning in the region. The book is a result of an 18-month teaching and research project that began in 2015 with Collett’s fall studio, which was part of the university’s Smart Communities Initiative in collaboration with its 2015-2016 community partner, the Southeast Tennessee Development District. SETD sought a regional water quality improvement plan, and throughout the semester, students developed a series of strategies that are scalable and adaptable to the range of landscapes typical throughout the region.

The studio proposals and their supporting research are now published as HydroLIT through the efforts of students Sarah Newton, Lindsey Bradley, Erica Phannamvong and Kyra Wu.

Meeting the emergent challenges that face the Tennessee River and the communities it supports requires best practices, novel ideas and multi-scalar thinking from a range of allied disciplines, including planning and design.

Brad Collett, Asst. Professor of Landscape Architecture

HydroLIT was launched in spring 2017 at a collaborative visioning event in Chattanooga attended by regional foundation leaders, mayors, commissioners and others. It was aimed at empowering the region to protect natural resources and hosted by Southeast Tennessee DevelopmentThrive 2055 Regional Partnership and Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.

The book was designed as a resource for a range of regional stakeholders, including municipalities, agencies, researchers, planners, designers, residents, landowners and developers. By working collaboratively to implement HydroLIT’s proposed strategies, Southeast Tennessee can accommodate projected economic and population growth while stewarding the region’s natural treasures and maintaining the high quality of life that makes the region a desirable place to live, work and play.

In addition to supporting conversation and decisions about a sustainable future for the Southeast Tennessee’s water resources, including the Tennessee River, HydroLIT also formed the basis of the college’s Tennessee River Studio. The studio is a unique teaching, research and outreach initiative that began in 2016 with a mission to contemplate speculative, visionary proposals that steward the Tennessee Valley’s resources while maintaining its legacy of leadership and innovation. It is part of the Governor’s Chair for Energy + Urbanism, a unique, five-year partnership of the College of Architecture and Design, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to research innovations and technologies toward a healthy urban future.