West Point Cadets assist with storm water management plan

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Photo courtesy of Col. Fred Meyer, USMA

From the lush, western banks of the Hudson River, some 50 miles north of New York City, two cadets from the U.S. Military Academy elected to enjoy their summer in the High Desert of Fort Irwin.

Cadets Addison Bieger and Marshall Kobylski, both senior civil engineering majors, were here with their faculty advisor, Col. Fred Meyer, Deputy Department Head of West Point’s Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. They served with engineers from Fort Irwin’s Directorate of Public Works and from the Los Angeles District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to prepare a new storm water management plan for the garrison involving the design of storm runoff systems. The engineering projects will help prevent the type of damage caused by a storm on Aug. 25, 2013.

The new management plan, designed to accommodate a 100-year storm, replaces an older plan for 25 to 50-year storms.

“Our academic studies have really helped us,” Bieger said. “But it’s a lot more challenging to adjust to real-life constraints. The terrain is a lot different, and we have to account for Fort Irwin’s isolation, how to get certain materials out here, from a long distance away, and figuring out how we can best do that.”

Kobylski explained their first job was to work with USACE and Fort Irwin engineers to prioritize a list of projects required as part of the storm water management plan. They designed the number-one priority projects – the repair and expansion of the North Tank Trail Channel, and creating new basins above the channel that will collect debris and water during a storm event. As an added benefit, water in the basins during storms will help recharge an aquifer that supports Fort Irwin.

“Water and debris came down from the mountains from outside the cantonment area during the 2013 storm. Most of the damage came from there,” Kobylski said. “The basins should catch most of the debris and slow the water down, so the flood channels can direct any excess water around the cantonment area.”

Meyer is crafting a memorandum of understanding between Fort Irwin and West Point, to formalize a relationship in hopes of bringing more teams of cadets and faculty members here.

“This is really a win-win situation, to have projects here on which cadets can work,” Meyer said. “It’s beneficial to them in their development as engineers, or possibly other majors, and as future leaders. And they can learn about NTC in the process.”

Meyer noted that as part of his NTC experience, Bieger observed a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation to get a sense for the type of training conducted here. Kobylski will remain here a few more weeks to take part in the Cadet Troop Leader Training program, which pairs him with a platoon leader from the 58th Engineer Company.