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UI students present wastewater solutions to protect Lake Delhi

After the flood in 2010, the state agreed to help with funding to rebuild the city's dam, but it came with the stipulation the city would need to improve its septic systems over the next 10 years.

It has been more than seven years since flood waters took out the Delhi dam, causing the city's lake to drain and disappear.

"it's becoming a recreational lake once again, after this year," said Jason Ruffatti, University of Iowa senior in Civil Engineering.

With the lake now fully restored, University of Iowa students are using engineering skills to protect the city of Delhi from unclean water, and make sure years of rebuilding won't go to waste.

After the flood in 2010, the state agreed to help with funding to rebuild the city's dam, but it came with the stipulation the city would need to improve its septic systems over the next 10 years.

"There was a lot of people concerned that Lake Delhi did not have adequate sewage," said Dennis Lyons, the Delaware County Sanitarian.

Seven years since the flood, Lyons said he has bee able to improve wastewater systems for two-thirds of the city.

"The small cabins, they are the ones we're working on now," he said.

"There's no centralized system like there would be in Iowa city or something like that," said Ruffati.

Ruffatti and his team of UI engineering students were tasked with bringing sustainability to Delhi as a class project.

"We thought that would be a good idea, another set of eyes," said Lyons.

"This one was kind of going to push us to see what we could design, and see what we could actually do with our skills that we've learned in the past three years," said Kelly Wollner, a senior civil engineering student with the project.

Students proposed three different solutions to help reduce waste in three key areas of Delhi.

Two systems that could take sewage and filter clean water back into the lake, and a holding tank located behind individual homes to be pumped out once a year, particularly at the end of the summer.

"Wastewater that those homes generate cannot be dangerous for those people to play around in," said Ruffati.

While this project may be for a class, it is also these students' vision this could lead to a permanent solution.

"I think it will help. I definitely think it will help," said Lyons.

The city of Delhi has until 2020 to come up permanent solutions to better manage wastewater throughout the city.

This project is part of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, managed by the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement. It brings students and faculty closer to surrounding communities by offering projects that can produce a real-life impact.

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