SHERIDAN — Dan Marshall, owner of Captain Clean, has his mind in the gutter.
No, not that gutter. This is a family newspaper, after all.
But as someone who is preoccupied with cleanliness — of carpet, air ducts, wood floors and more — it is only natural for Marshall to turn his attention to the gutter. Stormwater is the No. 1 source of water pollution, and just one cigarette butt washed into a watershed can kill five out of 10 fish in one liter of water, according to Sheridan native Brian Deurloo, president and owner of the Casper-based environmental technology company Frog Creek Partners.
When Deurloo took to the streets of Sheridan to install 10 new Gutter Bins last week, one of the new bins was emblazoned with the words “Captain Clean.” The 10 new Gutter Bins were installed as part of the Clean Water Community Challenge launched by Frog Creek Partners and Wyoming Roofing of Sheridan earlier this spring.
“We’re a Sheridan-based company, and Brian’s a Sheridan guy,” Marshall said. “Not only do we get to help clean up the water in Goose Creek, we get to support a new business and leave a legacy on the streets of Sheridan forever.”
Captain Clean is just one of the local businesses who are rallying around Deurloo and his Gutter Bins. As of Friday, a total of 22 bins had been installed. Deurloo said he was hopeful his bins will continue to spread throughout the city.
“The ultimate goal is to minimize the amount of pollution in Goose Creek, Deurloo said. “...We want to get people to realize that the stuff on the streets flushes down there (into the gutter) and goes right down to the stream. I estimate that 80% of the pollution comes from 20% of the storm drains. There’s probably around 2,500 storm drains in Sheridan. If we replaced 400, that would likely cut out most of the pollution in Goose Creek.”
The Gutter Bin, which ranges in price from $1,000 to $6,000, acts like a coffee filter for storm drains, according to Deurloo. It removes cigarette butts, trash and other pollutants from stormwater to help protect and restore watersheds. The bins capture an average of 100 pounds of pollution per year per storm drain, Deurloo said.
And the water quality of Goose Creek matters — not just for the people of Sheridan, but for those who live in the watershed fed by the creek’s waters, Deurloo said. Goose Creek flows into the Tongue River, which feeds into the Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River flows into the Missouri River, which dumps into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf lies a 200-mile wide anoxic- or oxygen-free- zone where pollution has sucked all of the oxygen out.
Wyoming Roofing co-owner Bonnie Gregory said her business was quick to jump on Deurloo’s design and recognize its full potential.
“I think my family’s interest in the Goose Creek Watershed started when I was working for the Downtown Sheridan Association and was able to help with some of the stream restoration projects through Kendrick Park, South Park and North Park,” Gregory said. “I got a firsthand view of how important that watershed was.
“I was really surprised to learn that all our storm drains emptied right into the Goose Creek watershed. I didn’t realize how much trash and pollutants went in — cigarette butts and baby diapers, and it’s just gross… All of that junk really starts to accumulate, and you start to notice it…Our whole family just wants this to be a pristine watershed for generations to come. We want our kids to be able to enjoy it as much as we have.”
The Gutter Bin design is growing in popularity throughout the state and country, Deurloo said. In late October, Frog Creek Partners received a $100,000 grant from Microsoft’s Community Environmental Sustainability initiative to purchase and install at least 50 Gutter Bins on the streets of Cheyenne.
Both Gregory and Deurloo acknowledged the local Clean Water Challenge had a long way to go before it made a noticeable difference in the water quality of Goose Creek. But each bin installed makes the water a little cleaner and the watershed a little healthier, Gregory said. And local businesses can still play a part in improving the creek.
“I want to say ‘It’s not over,’” Gregory said. “This challenge is definitely not over — I feel like this should be the first of many installations. So if there’s other people in this community that care about Goose Creek, stream restoration or this watershed, get involved.”