September 27, 2013 Guide for East Tennessee Water Resources Fueled by UT Landscape Architecture Research

As East Tennessee communities are expected to grow 43 percent in the next three decades, the UT Landscape Architecture Program has created a resource guide aimed at protecting iconic water resources in Anderson, Blount, Loudon, Knox, and Union Counties. The book, “Low Impact Development: Opportunities for the PlanET Region,” was prepared for the City of Knoxville and the Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) Consortium, a regional planning initiative supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For three years, faculty and graduate students of the UT College of Architecture and Design have conducted investigative research and created design solutions in collaboration with PlanET. As an education and outreach resource, the publication advocates for existing and expanding communities to embrace low impact development (LID), an enhanced approach to watershed planning, community design, and site development that addresses stormwater challenges at their source by reintroducing natural hydrologic functions and biological processes into developed landscapes. The Knoxville County Metropolitan Planning Commission has funded publication of this research.

View the publication at

“In East Tennessee, water is a resource that defines the landscape and sustains the region economically, socially, and environmentally,” said Brad Collett, an associate professor of landscape architecture and plant sciences, who co-authored the publication with lecturer Valerie Friedmann and program alumna Wyn Miller. “Precipitation, streams, rivers, reservoirs, and ground water are all part of an interconnected system. As the East Tennessee population grows, the health of the region’s water resources, such as that for drinking, industry, recreation, and tourism, will face increasing challenges.”

The health of our water resources is threatened by the amount and quality of the stormwater runoff occurring in urban and rural watersheds, each of which is affected by prevailing development patterns, activities on developed properties, and existing infrastructure in the region suggests Collett.

UT’s publication celebrates the region’s water resources and their value while offering governments, developers, design professionals, and water resource advocates approaches to address these threats. Through the impact avoidance, minimization, and management methods outlined in this publication, East Tennessee communities may steward the health of the region’s shared water resources, allowing them to remain iconic assets that continue to define and sustain the region economically, socially, and environmentally.

The research demonstrates water management solutions for existing and new development across rural, urban, residential and institutional land uses.  “By implementing ‘green’ stormwater infrastructure, developed landscapes can perform as part of the solution to water resource challenges and help communities meet new stormwater management regulations by reducing, cleaning, retaining, and infiltrating runoff,” says Collett.

LID practices also present an opportunity for stormwater management systems to become an aesthetically integrated part of a performing landscape as opposed to a buried utility. According to Collett, developers around the country are seeing meaningful reductions in up-front infrastructure expenses by using similar approaches.

This research was made possible through the coursework of landscape architecture graduate students, who investigated and designed for regional growth through grayfield redevelopment, and low-impact alternatives to managing storm water runoff and re-introducing natural water cycle processes on developed sites in Knoxville’s First Creek/White’s Creek Watershed. Several of these projects received awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects Tennessee Chapter in 2012.

The UT Landscape Architecture is the only accredited landscape architecture program in Tennessee. It is housed between the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The program’s commitment to the PlanET is valued at $1 million, an estimate based on students’ time, facilities, and faculty resources dedicated to the project through six graduate-level studio courses.

To learn more about PlanET and UT’s involvement, visit

R E A D  +  S E E:

R E L A T E D:

Official press release, article: “Landscape Architecture Program Creates Guide to Protect Water Resources,” Tennessee Today. 27 Sept. 2013.

Tennessee Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects hosts state conference and awards ceremony,” Commercial Appeal. 24 Oct. 2013.
C O N T A C T:

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,