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BSC Student Compiles Infrastructure Condition Assessment of City’s Stormwater System, Resulting in Major Savings and Efficiency Enhancements

  • Created
    Tuesday, May 27 2014
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103

jackson mohler(Bluefield)—A year ago, Bluefield State College student Jackson Mohler began what he thought would be a summer internship, working on a project to gather information on the condition of the City of Bluefield's Stormwater sewer system. That project quickly grew into a "Systemwide Infrastructure Condition Assessment" of the City's drainage system and the BSC student's work expanded into a yearlong initiative that has included more than 1500 inspections and 3500+ photographs.

With the implementation of more stringent stormwater control mandates, municipalities like Bluefield faced a challenging task. Stephen Duffy, the Sanitary Board's Engineering Manager/Stormwater Director, explained that the Sanitary Board had been given responsibility for meeting the state Department of Environmental Protection's (WVDEP) compliance requirements of the City's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, and the city formed the Bluefield Stormwater Board (BSB) to oversee the management and execution of these responsibilities.

"The MS4 permitting program is a federally mandated, state regulated, locally enforced and implemented pollution prevention program intended to reduce polluted stormwater runoff from reaching streams and other natural water bodies," Duffy stated.

Duffy contacted faculty within the BSC School of Engineering Technology & Computer Science. BSC faculty member Erik Baldwin recommended Jackson Mohler, a senior majoring in Civil Engineering Technology, for the internship. "We were being asked to manage a system that was more than 100 years old and had pressing maintenance needs, and we didn't have good data regarding the condition and scope of the system," Duffy added.

"Until Jackson arrived and compiled the Condition Assessment," our work was more reactive than proactive." Duffy continued. "When a basin broke, we tried to repair it. Now, we can look at a map and determine areas where work needs to be done, then concentrate our efforts on repair work in those areas."

"The entire experience here has influenced my career direction," Mohler said. "The research I was able to conduct for the Bluefield Stormwater Board was a huge opportunity, permitting me to collect and assess data. I realize now that there are two types of assessment—public safety and structural. Now, the citizens of Bluefield can review the Systemwide Infrastructure Condition Assessment and get a better understanding of the critical need for system improvement."

The information Mohler collected has been entered into the BSB database and will be tied to its Geographic Information System. "It's amazing to consider the savings that have been realized through the work Jackson has done," Duffy said. "He is a great example of the benefit a business or municipal organization can derive from hiring a BSC student as an intern. BSC students are technically and career-invested in doing a very good job in a way that benefits their employers."

Mohler, who graduated this May, has been accepted into the Master of Science Civil Engineering program at the University of Tennessee.