Next time you’re exploring downtown Colorado Springs near the brand-new playground in Acacia Park, look down! You’ll see Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s logo on a storm drain cover on the southwest corner of E. Platte Ave. and N. Tejon St.
The CMZoo-branded drain cover is neat, but what’s underneath is the real interest: a special filter that catches debris. CMZoo members funded the installation of three drain filters that will each prevent around 20 pounds of waste from getting to Fountain Creek per month. There’s one member-funded filter underneath the CMZoo-branded manhole and two others around the city.
In March, CMZoo members voted in the annual Member Conservation Vote to support this effort for $10,873, which funded three drain filters that are already hard at work protecting our city’s waterways and the wildlife that depends on them.
“The mesh nets catch litter and debris that washes into the drains from the street, and the City cleans them out every six weeks or so,” said Nicole Chaney, CMZoo conservation and sustainability coordinator. “We’re playing part of a much larger effort led by the City, and our three filters alone will capture around 720 pounds of pollution per year before it reaches Fountain Creek. Imagine the impact we will make combined with the rest of the filters the City and other partners are installing. We’re protecting our local ecosystems from multiple tons of waste negatively impacting them, and our Zoo members should be proud.”
To help keep trash and debris from washing into Fountain Creek, the City of Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise Department partnered with Frog Creek Partners and launched a program piloting this special storm drain filtration device, called the Gutter Bin, in July 2019. This pilot study was a success, and in August 2020, the City purchased six more Gutter Bins. Since then, with support from community partners like CMZoo, the City continues to install the drain filters around town. There are currently 31 filters in place.
“Our members voted this the number one project they wanted to support this year,” said Chaney. “We’re thrilled they want to prioritize local water conservation work, and that we live in a city that makes these opportunities possible for us.”