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WKU faculty, students publish research on Bowling Green stormwater project

The May issue of Stormwater, a journal for surface water quality professionals, features an article by a research team from the Department of Geography and Geology which addressed “Stormwater Remediation in a Karst Watershed.”

Led by Dr. John All, an associate professor of geography who also holds a J.D. in environmental law, the team included world-renowned cave analyst and associate director of the Hoffman Institute Pat Kambesis, undergraduate geology major Ronson Elrod of Russellville and geography-environmental planning major Jeremy Goldsmith of Prospect, who graduated in August 2008.

As detailed in the article, Bowling Green, along with thousands of other small municipalities across the United States, became responsible for Phase II implementation of stormwater regulations under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in 2003. As a part of its Phase II program, the city installed a structural water-quality device (SWQD) at the entrance of Bypass Cave, which is part of the Lost River karst groundwater basin.

As part of its ongoing study of Bypass Cave, the team collected a set of water samples before installation of the SWQD to establish a water-quality baseline. An assessment of the cave passage followed in order to document the impact of stormwater flow and surface debris, with a second set of samples collected a year after the device was installed.

In its conclusions, the team noted that based on two sets of water samples collected before and after installation of the SWQD, the device does not appear to have improved the quality of the water within the cave, nor did it effectively filter any trash to keep it from entering the cave. The initial results from this research project have proved critical for evaluating stormwater mitigation activities in Bowling Green and elsewhere, as it seems that much of the pollution (i.e., fecal coliform) entering the cave cannot be directly tied to stormwater flows as previously hypothesized.

“Applied research involving students that addresses important environmental issues facing our communities is a core element of our academic mission,” said Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling. “By bringing together faculty and students who considered geographical, geological, environmental, and technical issues, among others, this research project has raised awareness about the challenges facing our region in managing stormwater more effectively.”

Contact: Dr. John All at (270) 745-5975 or john.all@wku.edu

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