CHEYENNE – The Laramie County Conservation District, the three Cheyenne Rotary clubs and Casper-based Frog Creek Partners have teamed up in an effort to improve the water quality of Crow Creek.
Earlier this week, crews installed 12 water filtration units called “Gutter Bins” into stormwater catchment basins around the Cheyenne Depot downtown.
Brian Deurloo, president and founder of the environmental technology company Frog Creek Partners, said the idea for the system came from a “strong abhorrence of cigarette butts.” He said he estimates that at least 40 million cigarette butts litter Cheyenne annually.
“All the storm drains in Cheyenne are unfiltered,” Deurloo said. “They flush straight to Crow Creek when it rains. All the trash and stuff that you see on the streets goes straight to Crow Creek.”
Gutter Bins capture everything from sediment to hydrocarbons before it hits the stormwater conveyance system. An adjustable funnel system directs polluted water into a “Mundus Bag” filter, which can be removed and discarded or recycled.
“It’s like a coffee filter for storm inlets,” Deurloo said. “When it rains, all the cigarette butts and straws get flushed into the Gutter Bin. We’ve found diapers and hypodermic needles, and we find a hundred-dollar bill every now and then.”
Deurloo said the Mundus bags are weighed to get “measurable and quantifiable results.”
“We know when we pull a Mundus bag and weigh it, we can report back exactly what kind of job we’re doing,” he said.
Around a million pounds of pollution are washed into Crow Crew each year, Deurloo estimates.
Funding for the Gutter Bins was provided by the Rotary clubs in Cheyenne and the conservation district, whose staff and members will maintain the bins for the next couple of years. Each bin costs around $700.
Don Day Jr., a member of the Cheyenne Noon Rotary Club, said the Crow Creek revival effort matches up with the mission of Rotary clubs across the globe to provide clean sanitation and water.
“Rotary has been doing a lot of international projects, trying to get clean water to villages in Africa, India and around the world,” Day said. “There was an opportunity to get a grant for a local project.”
He said the three local Rotary Clubs applied for and received a $4,000 grant that required matching funds locally.
He added the clubs hope to raise funds to install additional bins around the city, but they would need help from the community.
“That’s going to take more fundraising, more grants,” Day said. “I’d like to put a challenge out to all other service clubs in Cheyenne, organizations and businesses to be a part of the Crow Creek revival and put more bins in. This is not an exclusive thing that we’re doing.”
Jeff Geyer, Laramie County Conservation District water specialist, said a large amount of sediment and trash gets washed directly into Crow Creek and the Pumphouse Park Wetland, a multi-million-dollar water treatment facility recently constructed.
“Sediment and trash is already filling the forebay on that facility to where it needs to be cleaned out only two years after being constructed,” Geyer said. “It was scheduled to last five years.”
In the final report after construction of the facility, city officials mentioned to the conservation district that they needed a way to keep trash and sediment from entering the wetland treatment pond, he said.
“These Gutter Bins are the answer,” Geyer said. “They are also far easier to maintain than using pump vac trucks.”
The technology is “simple, but effective,” he said.