Wyoming resident’s design keeps street garbage out of pipes and streams

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality  | view as a webpage

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming resident’s design keeps street garbage out of pipes and streams

By Kristine Galloway

CHEYENNE – We’ve all seen city gutters littered with cigarette butts and a few soda bottles.

But city workers will clean that up, right?

Not necessarily, and if water flushes that trash down the stormwater drain first, it can clog pipes and end up polluting nearby creeks and streams.

Casper resident Brian Deurloo set out to address that problem with his inspired design for a gutter bin stormwater filtration system.

This summer his company, Frog Creek Partners, installed 78 of these gutter bins in Cheyenne, mostly downtown.

Deurloo said, “When it rains, all the trash on Cheyenne’s streets goes right into the storm sewer, goes underground and dumps right into Crow Creek.”

There are about 4,000 storm drains throughout Cheyenne. Deurloo said he’s learned over his five years installing gutter bins in storm drains that each bin collects between 120 and 200 pounds of trash each year.

“That’s about 800,000 pounds of trash, sediment, heavy metal and hydrocarbons that are going to Crow Creek,” he explained.

Deurloo said, “Scientists have proven that one smoked cigarette butt placed into a liter of water with 10 minnows will kill half the fish in four days.”

He additionally explained that rubber from tires rubs off on roads and can end up in the stormwater drains as well.

“All that rubber is zinc, hydrocarbons and all sorts of other things, and it peels off your tires, it rolls up like a cigar, and it gathers more pollutants as it rolls and blows toward the stormwater,” Deurloo said.

Alex Jeffers, DEQ’s Nonpoint Source Program coordinator, said, “Gutter bins remove pollution from stormwater before it can enter waterways, and they provide measurable pollutant load reductions and water quality benefits, which is a key component to water quality restoration and the Nonpoint Source Program.”

She said Crow Creek is officially listed as impaired from sediment and added, “With the Gutter Bins in place, pollution entering Crow Creek will be measurably reduced and we all will have the chance to learn more about how much sediment enters Crow Creek through storm drains.”

Deurloo also said that too much trash can clog the pipes, which can cause stormwater to overflow in the streets. His gutter bins will save the city some of the costs associated with maintaining those pipes.

Deurloo’s business partner, Chris Tippie, said, “I always say, ‘Look, it’s like a coffee filter for storm drains.’ It’s one of those obvious solutions to an obvious problem that nobody has done. It’s the wheels at the bottom of the suitcase.”

Each gutter bin is composed of an adjustable cast iron frame and filter hanger from which hangs a bag that catches the trash and sediment that water washes down the drains. Each gutter bin also gets a new grate that easily opens to allow the bins to be cleaned out.

In July, Gov. Mark Gordon attended a ceremonial installation of a gutter bin on 24th Street in front of the Capitol Building. The grate of that gutter bin is emblazoned with the recognizable bucking Steamboat silhouette in gold.

The Rotary Club of Cheyenne and the Laramie County Conservation District paid for 12 of the gutter bins placed in Cheyenne. Frog Creek Partners also received donations from the Boys and Girls Club.

Deurloo then worked with Cheyenne resident Dennis Ellis with Microsoft to obtain funding.

“I said, ‘It’s always been my dream for Bill Gates to buy a bunch of gutter bins. How would Microsoft like to sponsor $100,000 worth of gutter bins?’” Deurloo explained.

Ellis managed that effort, and five weeks later, Microsoft made a donation through a fiscal agent that paid for the remainder of the gutter bins Frog Creek Partners installed in Cheyenne.

Deurloo said Frog Creek Partners worked with the City of Cheyenne to determine where to install the gutter bins. They chose the drains by considering which areas collected the most trash and how easy they could make it for city workers to vacuum the gutter bins without needing to drive all around the city.

It’s not clear yet how often the gutter bins in Cheyenne will need to be vacuumed, but Tippie built an app they use to keep track of how full the bins are when weighed every few months. Deurloo explained that after regular monitoring for a year or two, it becomes clear how often the bins must be emptied.

However, Deurloo said the bags are designed to allow continued water flow even if the bags are full, so there is no concern that the bags will impede road drainage.

Frog Creek Partners has also installed gutter bins in Sheridan, Laramie, Casper and Jackson Hole, and Deurloo said he now has patents for the gutter bin stormwater filtration system in several states and other countries.

Tippie said, “We’re seeing Wyomingites – whether it’s cities, whether it’s Rotary clubs, whether it’s appropriations from individuals – wanting to do the right thing and do something about stormwater pollution.”

He added, “We’re at the top of the watershed, so we’re not dealing with anyone else’s pollution. We still want to do something about it, and that’s really cool. That’s one thing that makes Wyoming, Wyoming, right?”