by Lexi Corral.

Lexi is corporate and public affairs representative for Bechtel's Nuclear, Security and Environmental business.

Bechtel colleagues, working with the Northern Virginia Professional Chapter of Engineers without Borders-USA, have completed a project in the U.S. state of South Dakota that will help a disadvantaged community finally tackle a problem that’s forced them to truck in bottled water for years.

The need for clean water

Cedar GulchCedar Gulch II is a small community of 10 homes and 27 residents located in Pennington County just outside of Rapid City, South Dakota. Cedar Gulch, like many communities near the famous Black Hills, faces challenges with naturally occurring radionuclide contamination found in the groundwater. 

EWB-NOVA chose to help this community because the local drinking water supply regularly exceeded the maximum contaminant levels under EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act for total radium and alpha particles. The community was not able to drink from their water supply which forced residents to purchase bottled water.

The chapter assessed technologies to provide safe drinking water to the residents.

“We did a lot of research,” said Bernie Krantz, Cedar Gulch II Responsible Engineer in Charge. “We identified fundamental groundwater quality issues and operational issues. We investigated their system, and their alternatives for dealing with the radium. We did a comparative analysis of the alternatives, and looked at the short- and long-term effectiveness for each.”

Thanks to the dedication of the EWB-NOVA professionals, the community is currently using the reports for grant proposals. 

“This community had dealt with these issues for far too long. They came together, appealed for our help, and through working together, now have the tools to go to the local government agencies and apply for grant funding,” said Jon Mulligan, Cedar Gulch II Project Lead.  

EWB-NOVA Chapter

Bechtel is committed to continuous community involvement, charitable giving, and economic development in communities where we live and work. Bechtel Group Foundation partners with EWB to use engineering and construction skills to improve quality of life. 

The Northern Virginia Professional Chapter of EWB-USA is a group of professionals dedicated to helping communities around the world achieve a better quality of life through sustainable development and community empowerment. EWB-NOVA was founded in 2014 and includes professionals form the Northern Virginia-Washington DC Metro area. 

The EWB chapter aligns with Bechtel’s vision, values, and covenants by inspiring colleagues to broaden their work, welcoming help and giving it freely, and by delivering extraordinary results to those in need.  “One of the important parts with the EWB chapter is that active members gain knowledge by participating in these projects. They learn how to structure a project, recruit new members, and attain leadership skills,” said Janet Bruins, EWB-NOVA member. 

For more information on EWB-NOVA visit: https://ewb-nova.org/