The Project:

The Seminary pond (Sem Pond), here at Calvin College has been a major attraction to many incoming students. It is a great place to relax, study for finals, or to take a quick nap. However, over the years, the pond water has become quite brown and silty, detracting from the overall aesthetics of the area. The goal of this project was to improve the water quality of the storm water runoff by daylighting a small stream (Whiskey Creek), that currently runs beneath Calvin’s campus through a series of storm sewers. The Team worked with Calvin’s Physical Plant to produce plans that would fit with the long term Campus Master Plan. The Team’s final plan will also increase on-site storm water detention by featuring a small pond and a series of weirs and outflow structures. This increase in detention will help to solve potential flooding issues downstream within the Whiskey Creek Drainage District. The Kent County Drain Commission (KCDC),  has shown interest in the possibility of increasing the detention of Calvin’s campus because it would help their project, which is to prevent the flooding of the Centerpointe Mall, which is downstream of Calvin.

Profile view of a cross section of the daylighted creek.

 To reduce the contaminant loads such as sediments into the Sem Pond, the team will be looking into daylighting Whiskey Creek where the southern part of the Covenant Fine Arts Center (CFAC) parking lot currently is. Daylighting the creek will allow for the contaminants to settle out or to be used as nutrients for nearby plants in addition to returning some water back to the local aquifer.  In compliance with Calvin’s long term Master Plan, the parking lot will be turned into an extension of the Commons Lawn to integrate sustainable landscape elements, therefore allowing a dynamic mixture of nature and formal open spaces.  Additionally, the daylighted portion of Whiskey Creek will add a unique element to Calvin’s campus core.


This project is entered in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2016 Campus RainWorks Challenge under the master plan category. The main goal of this challenge is to provide a conceptual design for green infrastructure that will effectively improve stormwater quality and could be integrated into the team’s college campus. The design should be compatible with the campus’s master plans as well as enhance the campus’s long-term sustainability. The winners of the challenge will be announced in April 2017.