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ARLINGTON — A Bennington engineering firm’s work in identifying and replacing lead drinking water lines won the company $25,000 to assist with the costs of business innovation.

MSK Engineers, in Bennington, won Lever’s Bennington County Intrapreneur Challenge on Friday. The team of civil engineers centers its work around eliminating lead water pipes from Bennington and beyond. The consulting firm’s mission is to develop projects that will improve communities by making everyone’s drinking water safe and healthy.

“Lead is so toxic to humans that there is no lead contaminant level safe for drinking water,” said Jason Dolmetsch, president of MSK Engineers.

Lever, a nonprofit organization with an economic development mission, hosted this challenge at The Arlington Common to help fund business innovations and boost job creation in Bennington County. The organization has a regional approach to economic development, because “there’s lots of synergy and interdependencies between Berkshire County and Bennington County. So for us, it’s a no-brainer,” Jeffrey Thomas, Lever’s executive director, said.

The runner-up was Authentic Designs, a company that creates custom lighting fixtures. It planned on creating high-quality rechargeable solar lights. Grateful Dog Training, Old Mill Road Media and Star Wind Turbines were also finalists in this challenge.

Intrapreneur Challenge offers $25,000 award

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The method created by MSK Engineers requires minimal cost, and it maximizes the accuracy of lead identification. So far, the method is 99 percent accurate.

To further emphasize the importance of identifying pipe materials, Dolmetsch states that about 44 percent of service lines are made of unknown material. This creates a need for a method of identification that will accurately identify lead, if it’s present. Dolmetsch mentioned that there is “no industry standard” and that “current methods [of lead identification] are inaccurate, expensive and destructive.”

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This business is covering about 40 percent of the water system in Bennington. Now, the company wants to use its skills to service other communities in the area.

With this challenge, one of Lever’s goals is to create more jobs in the county. With the success of this business innovation, MSK Engineers intend to create about 38 skilled jobs in the area.

According to the Lever website, that’s the ultimate goal of the Intrapreneur Challenge.


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