Saturday, April 28, 2012

Watershed Map

Just thought I'd share this.. 

I live in northern Hancock county, thus in the Blanchard River Watershed. 
Hope it isn't too small a picture.

-Alexander S. Gaskins

Its Own Agenda

What do Cincinnati, OH, North Bend, OH, Wellsville, OH, Mt. Vernon, IN, and Evansville, IN have in common?
Well, if you must know, these are just a few terminals (a facility where oil products are stored in large tanks until ready to be transported by truck to fueling stations) run by Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) along the Ohio River. Though pipelines are a large contributor to the transport of crude oil products, the rivers are HUGE. In addition to the terminals listed above, MPC utilizes rivers like the Licking, Niagara, and Mississippi to move their valuable products. As an engineering co-op for MPC this semester, I was able to witness the importance of the rivers to this largely successful oil company.
Tasked with several dock inspection projects, I was called to work in conjunction with a variety of contractors to coordinate inspections of MPC docks along the rivers. The idea of a dock inspection is rather simple, swim around in the water and see if there are any holes in the float (a water vessel that barges align with in order to pump product to the storage tanks in the terminal). However, these simple inspections became quite the project when considering the river.
The river always seems to have a life and mind of its own, its own agenda. When it rains, the river swells and its swift current can cause major problems for the docks. Just this spring, I was on site for a “high water barge guide” project. In essence, the river had become such a severe factor in the operations of this dock facility that a week’s worth of construction was needed to install a system to help keep the float secure as the river rose with spring rain. Being one site for this project reminded me of how watersheds work. Many days, I would watch from the hydrograph on my computer, as rain in Cincinnati, OH would trickle into the Ohio River, rush down to hook up with the Mississippi, and then slide on down to the gulf—river levels rising all the way.
All I could do was laugh in amazement as I postponed yet another dock inspection…

To the people of the River,
Alexander S. Gaskins

Friday, April 20, 2012

Welcome New Baby Stews!!

Ciao Everyone!

I hope everyone's semester is going well. I look forward to meeting the new baby stews in the fall. Congratulations to everyone who was accepted!

Over the semester I have spent a lot of time surrounding myself around Rivers and bodies of water in Europe; especially the Tiber River. The Tiber runs through the center of Rome and is covered by beautiful bridges.

During my time in Rome the Tiber River's impact on me has been mostly aesthetic. Along both sides of the river there is a large path for walking, running or biking. During the day there are many people outside along the river enjoying the natural resource.

Influenced by the senior river stews, I bought a bike within the first few weeks of my trip. The Tiber has become my getaway place to bike or walk with a friend. Italians spend their afternoons lounging in the sun along the Tiber enjoying each others company; it is a wonderful sight to see so many people outside biking and sitting taking in the Rivers beauty.

A exciting thing done on the Tiber in Rome is every New Years there are a few locals who jump in the river off of a bridge to celebrate the New Year with a Splash.

I look forward to bringing my experiences back with me and making Dayton's Rivers become a getaway place for others and showing them how amazing natural resources can be. I can't wait to get back to Dayton for a paddle and see my River Steward family. I miss you all and am excited to catch up with the River.

River Love,

Friday, April 13, 2012

this is what happens when you keep stewards away from the water for too long...

the 2014 cohort went to the Huffman Dam for mini course today, the first time we'd been out near the river in a while.

and we basically attacked it.

with a spirit of adventure, of course. :)

it was nice to just be out on the dam, overlooking the mad river, being five again and throwing stones and sticks in, and seeing the amazing flood protection that was implemented so long ago by some very important men with mustaches, rebuilding a new post-flood Dayton. at least that's what they look like in the pictures.

we eventually ventured down from the top of the dam to the river banks and flood plains behind it. we got our feet wet, explored the flood plains with all their pretty purple and yellow flowers, and even found a few golf balls in the water. the water was pretty cold, but that certainly didn't stop us. we could see the natural meanders of the mad river, pretty and healthy! ashley and joe even found an old barn/shed-type building with a trough inside! we came away from the river, some of us a little worse for wear, but at least i can say it was worth falling over in the river and getting soaked. :)

and on the way back, we got some pre-dinner snacks and sang in the van!

all in all, a great day with the river steward family.

much river love,