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Nazareth Borough has awarded a $33,492 grant for the project

When employees at the nearby Nazareth Borough Municipal Authority need information about the century-old sewer system that runs beneath the community’s streets, it can sometimes take hours to locate the data.

That retrieval time will soon be reduced to a matter of seconds thanks to an ambitious project, led by a team of Lafayette students and professors, to map the borough’s sewer system and import that information into a user-friendly geographical information system (GIS).

The project will involve surveying the existing system in order to verify locations of pipes and manholes; importing the surveying information into computer-aided design software to create a precise map of the system; developing a database of all information that has been collected on the system since it was first established in the early 1900s; and, finally, compiling all of this information into a GIS.

Three students are spearheading the work: civil engineering majors Andrew Woerheide ’10 (Media, Pa.) and Emily Bernzott ’10 (Babylon, N.Y.) and mechanical engineering major Menachem Katz ’10 (Paramus, N.J.). They are being advised by Roger Ruggles and Arthur Kney, associate professors of civil and environmental engineering. Also assisting with the work is Northampton Area High School student Eric Himmelwright.

The project is anticipated to take place over three or four summers, with some work done during each academic year. The borough awarded Lafayette a grant of $33,492 for Phase I, which got underway May 25. If the municipal authority is satisfied with the progress made by the end of the summer, it will award grants to proceed with subsequent phases.

The final product, the GIS, will be used by the municipal authority daily to address upgrades, problems, and other issues at the plant and in the field.

“This system will be the first step in the creation of an extensive Nazareth Borough GIS, one that may eventually house information for sidewalks, streets, storm drains, water system, stoplights and stop signs, accident information, and so on. The use of such a data system has endless possibilities and will become a very effective, cost-saving tool for the entire municipality,” Kney says.

This is not the first time that Lafayette students have collaborated with Nazareth Borough. The College’s relationship with the municipal authority began with a project in 2007-08, in which civil engineering graduate Lindsey Brough ’08 studied uses for biosolids, the byproduct of treated sewage, at the wastewater treatment plant.

Students have also assisted the municipal authority with developing ideas for green energy technology at the plant to provide cost savings. This spring, Ben Towne ’09, who graduated May 23 with a B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and an A.B. with a self-designed major in community development, determined that solar power would best suit the plant. Diana Hasegan ’10 (Tirgu Mures, Romania), who is pursuing a B.S. in civil engineering and an A.B. with a major in economics and business, is working to complete that project. She has been studying the effects of dust from a nearby cement plant and how it affects the efficiency of solar panels.

“Borough officials have been very pleased with our students and their work,” Kney says. “Therefore, through the exposure to these successful projects borough officials approached us about putting together the GIS for the sanitary sewer system.”

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