News

May 15, 2009

Students Tackle Water Issues in Easton’s West Ward

Technology Clinic presents recommendations for environmental improvements

Students in a Technology Clinic class are working with Easton’s West Ward Neighborhood Partnership on issues concerning the management of surface water runoff.

Tech Clinic is a hands-on course founded in 1986 that brings together students from different majors to help solve real-world problems of a business, nonprofit organization, or government body. This project is a continuation of a previous Tech Clinic’s efforts in the West Ward to improve the neighborhood’s urban ecology, which concerns interactions between people and nature in city environments.

The current project is looking at ways to reduce and manage water runoff in a portion of the heavily-paved West Ward, the adjoining escarpment, and the Lehigh River.

Some of the group’s suggestions include slowing down runoff through the use of gravel and permeable pavement, green roofs, cisterns, and retention ponds; storing runoff with rain barrels, cisterns, and septic tanks; and reusing runoff to provide water for drinking, urban gardening, household applications, and energy through the use of turbines.

The students are able to see how the community and environment interact, doing on-site research and talking with residents. This is one aspect that appeals to Sam Bloom ’10 (Washington, D.C.), a double major in religious studies and government & law.

“With global and local resources getting scarcer, we are looking at how water management affects people and their community,” he says. “We were able to go to a person’s home and see how they are living and find out how to help them.”

As a geology and art double major, Hanna Pingry ’10 (Huntingdon, Pa.) is able to bring a technical and humanistic approach to the project. She hopes to pursue a career in archeology and believes that some of the work she is doing will benefit her in the future because “we are able to apply actual issues to a project and try to accomplish something real with it,” she says.

Other members of the team are Doug Borchert ’12 (Princeton, N.J.); Megan Feeney ’12 (Webster, N.Y.); Cara Murphy ’11 (New Providence, N.J.), a psychology major; and Bradley Williams ’10 (Marriottsville, Md.), who has a self-designed major in multimedia design and marketing. The faculty advisers are Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, and Lawrence Malinconico, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences.

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