Storwater Diversion Project

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Hagley Gap, Jamaica – Seattle University students traveled to Hagley Gap, Jamaica during spring break 2009 to complete a stormwater diversion project for the Blue Mountain Project (BMP) medical clinic. BMP was founded in 2005 by SU nursing student Christine Topinka (’09) and it serves approximately 2500 people within the communities of Hagley Gap, Minto, Epping Farm, and Penlyne Castle.

The single road leading to the clinic follows the path of the Negros River and has been slowly deteriorating due to intense rain that occurs during hurricane season. In July 2008, another SU team traveled to the clinic to assess the site conditions. Led by professional partner Joe Souther from Camp Dresser & Mckee, Inc., the team conducted a topographic survey of the area with two students, Dwane Blackwood and Ramon Francis, from the University of Technology Kingston.  Developing this partnership with UTech was very important to the success of the project. Their students were able to provide insight into the local culture, and they were able to provide surveying equipment and other tools that the team did not have to transport. The project also forged a partnership between BMP and UTech that may lead to future service-learning projects for Jamaican engineering students.

Initial reports from the clinic indicated that the erosion of the road was being caused by the Negros River. However, after seeing the problem first-hand, the team realized that surface run-off from a nearby field was the primary cause. During the fall and winter quarters, SU students worked with Professor Wes Lauer from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to design a conveyance system that would divert the stormwater. The system required a 20-foot long trench coupled with a culvert that would reroute water under the road and down to the river.

In March 2009, the team consisting of Souther, Lauer, Dylan Martin (BSCE ’09), Ian Tromble (BSCE ’09), Jennifer Davis (BSCE ’10), Kasandra Wells (BSCE ’10) and SU facilities staff member John Schrader (who had worked on the 2007 SU stormwater project in Managua, Nicaragua) returned to assist in the construction of the diversion system. The team was also re-joined by Dwane and Ramon from UTech. With the help of local workers, including a backhoe and dump truck, the team successfully installed the system but not without a few minor adjustments along the way. Since the 15-inch pipe called for in the original design was not locally available, the team installed parallel 12-inch pipes. Another hiccup for the project involved the breaking of the backhoe’s bucket during the first day of construction.  Fortunately, a local welder was able to make the repairs within 24-hours.

The team also finalized designs for a drinking water treatment system for the clinic. The water system is similar to the one that SU students installed for the children’s dormitory in Mae Nam Khun, Thailand. It was installed in May 2009 by UTech students and members of the University of Michigan’s BLUELab student group which has been working with BMP for the past two years.

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