UWP students lend Leon a hand with drainage issues

November 4, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Looking for a subjective opinion in regards to drainage problems in the township of Leon, board members turned to students from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to provide options for the issue.

Students Liane Olson of St. Charles, Ill., Casey Werner of Ladysmith and Nicholas Lange of Hazel Green began the semester-long project in early September for Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle's senior design class.

"We were approached by the township of Leon about a drainage problem on one of the town's roads," said Olson, student project manager. "The road has already been redone, so now they're looking to us to give an unbiased opinion of options to solve the drainage problems, such as changing the surrounding area's inlets and outlets."

Thus far, the students have surveyed the area, providing a cross-section of the roadway of Kate Avenue in the town of Leon. The students have also been working on a hydrological study of the area's watershed and drafting proposals.

"We've been consulting with Greg Selbrede, chair of the Leon Town Board, on the drainage problems and our proposal for mediation of the problem," Werner said. "Right now, we're in the process of drafting proposals for the erosion control measures and flood prevention."

Property along the roadside is farmland, owned by three private landowners. In addition to satisfying the town board and appeasing the landowners, the students are also working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"Along the roadside is a stream classified by the DNR as a navigable stream, so we must work around the stream," Olson said. "If we want to propose a berm, rip rap (large boulders) or recreate a ditch, we'll need to determine what special permit is required by the DNR for the project."

As the students gather information to develop design options, the next phase of the project will begin.

"We'll be drawing a cross-section of the road and designing a berm or agricultural levy, doing a cost-analysis for each option and designing how to place rip rap around the culverts," Lange said. "On the north side of the road, we'll be designing options for regrading the ditch because the slope is so steep and the lack of vegetation is causing erosion."

In addition to conforming to DNR regulations, the students have also been working with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Working with the various government agencies and individual landowners has been a challenge.

"I've learned a project like this really requires a lot of a patience," Olson said. "Everyone has his or her own ideas to solve the drainage issues, and you can't just develop a design and go out and do it without prior approval from the appropriate parties. A project like this really is a gradual process."

The project will conclude at the end of the semester with the students presenting written and oral reports of the project to the Leon Town Board. Students said the project has provided an excellent hands-on learning experience culminating their education at UWP.

"In class, all the variables are given to you," Lange said. "With this project, it's up us to gather the information we need, using the knowledge we've acquired as engineering students. Because nothing is black or white, it's up to us to find the happy medium to please our client and the other parties involved."

Each of the students anticipate graduating in December 2002 with degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction and transportation. Olson is a 1997 graduate of St. Charles High School and the daughter of Gary and Linda Olson of St. Charles, Ill. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career with a civil engineering firm preferably working on heavy highway projects. Olson is president of the Association of General Contractors of Wisconsin, a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Circle K and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Werner is a 1997 graduate of Lady Smith High School and the son of Judy Werner and Bill Werner, both of Lady Smith. Following graduation, he plans to pursue a career with a civil engineering firm. Werner is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the civil engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon.

Lange is a 1996 graduate of Southwestern High School and the son of Mike and Doris Lange of Hazel Green. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in civil engineering with a construction emphasis.

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