Southern School of Energy and Sustainability


Durham Soil & Water Conservation District


Durham County, NC

CEC Services

  • Stormwater Assessments and Design
  • Stream & Wetland Delineation
  • Topographic Survey
  • Geomorphic Assessment
  • Natural Channel Design
  • Permitting and Conservation Easements
  • Construction Drawings and Specifications
  • Construction Oversight
  • Educational Outreach

Owner Objective

The Southern School of Energy and Sustainability (Southern) is a magnet school within the County of Durham’s public school system that offers an innovative, customized, and engaging learning environment for students while providing a four-year program of study focused on STEM education.

Southern has an environmental master plan for stormwater improvements/retrofits and stream restoration to improve water quality in the 303(d) sediment-impaired Falls Lake watershed. This project also functions as an outdoor classroom teaching experience for students, allowing them to further their understanding of water quality, agricultural engineering, landscape architecture, water quality monitoring, environmental science, and agribusiness.

CEC Approach

CEC was retained to provide ecological and stormwater planning, assessment, design, permitting, and outreach services. CEC performed a topographic survey and stream and wetland delineations, and also collected geomorphic survey data on the stream restoration reaches to determine appropriate natural channel design approaches for restoration. CEC prepared design drawings for the stream construction with a CEC custom stream design application using AutoCAD® Civil 3D® software, which enables rapid design adjustments to stream grading plans and allows the contractor to implement the project with GPS machine-controlled software.

Phased efforts consisted of installing 1,000 linear feet of stream restoration, two wet detention reuse basins (for reuse on athletic fields), two stormwater treatment wetlands, and two bioretention rain gardens to collect and treat runoff from the school’s roofs and parking lots. These retrofitted stormwater BMPs capture, treat, and/or reuse the first 1.0 -1.5 inches of rainfall for approximately 28.6 acres of impervious areas on the 70-acre school property.

CEC also assisted the Durham Soil & Water Conservation District with educational outreach initiatives, including grant writing and teacher and student outreach. CEC educated teachers and students about water quality and testing, stormwater runoff and management, various stormwater BMPs and design, stream restoration and design, and buffer and nutrient calculations.

Southern students also used this opportunity to grow the plants needed for the project and sell them to the contractor in order to help fund other agribusiness projects in the community.