Each time heavy rain falls in South Boston, trash and other toxins along the streets are whisked down the storm drains. Those pollutants ultimately end up in the Dan River.
Starting this week, that trash will be filtered by a stormwater filtration system installed in the town’s storm drains, curbing pollution to the river and the wildlife that inhabit it.
The stormwater filtration system project is a collaboration between the Frog Creek Partners, manufacturer of the gutter bins being installed into the storm drains, the town of South Boston and Microsoft. A $100,000 grant from Microsoft helped fund the project.
“We’re looking at a win-win-win,” Brian Deurloo, president and founder of Frog Creek Partners said on Wednesday, after South Boston Public Works employees installed the gutter bins into the storm drains outside the SOVA Innovation Hub. “Microsoft wins because they give back to the community. The town wins because they get cleaner infrastructure. One of the biggest wins is with the river and the environment.”
The stormwater filtration project marks the Wyoming-based Frog Creek Partners’ first major installation project on the East Coast. The Frog Creek Partners founder related that he first forged a partnership with Microsoft in Wyoming last year and installed gutter bins there with funding from the company.
Deurloo then sought out other communities with Microsoft footprints interested in the stormwater filtration project. Jeremy Satterfield, manager for TechSpark Virginia at Microsoft, expressed an interest.
“Microsoft wants to be a good community partner and help protect the watershed it uses,” Satterfield commented, in a news release on the project issued Wednesday afternoon. “Microsoft is committed to protecting our way of life in Southern Virginia.”
The SOVA Innovation Hub is the fiscal agent for the project.
“This project is a terrific example of the power of business and municipalities coming together in public-private partnership to meet the need of the community,” Lauren Mathena, director of economic development and community engagement for the SOVA Innovation Hub, commented. “We are proud to help three very important local towns make a difference.”
South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab remarked, in the news release, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Microsoft and Frog Creek Partners to help clean and protect the water in Southern Virginia.”
South Boston Public Works crews toiled this week to install the Marine-grade, recyclable Mundus bags fabricated by Frog Creek Partners into the gutter bins and place the gutter bins into the town of South Boston’s storm drains. Gutter bins also are being installed in other nearby towns in the Dan River’s watershed — Chase City and Boydton. Those towns are partners in the project, as well.
Deurloo explained the anticipated impact of the stormwater filtration system to the Dan River watershed.
“When it rains, all the cigarette butts and the trash on the street go right into the storm drain, and they go right into the water,” Deurloo said. “Studies have shown that one smoked cigarette butt in a liter of water with 10 minnows in it will kill half the fish in the water.”
The Mundus bags act as a filter, capturing the trash, cigarette butts and other debris so it does not end up in the river. Each gutter bin captures an average of about 200 pounds of trash/pollution per year per storm drain, according to Deurloo. A total of 40 Mundus bags/gutter bins were installed in the town of South Boston’s storm drains, which will keep 8,000 pounds, or 4 tons, of pollutants, from going into the Dan River, Deurloo said.
The estimate may be on the low side. Two larger-sized, specially made Mundus bags capable of capturing a larger quantity of trash were installed in storm drains by Reaves Lawn & Garden on Huell Matthews Highway with an outfall pipe flowing straight into the river, and on Railroad Avenue, where flooding frequently occurs.
Deurloo estimated the gutter bins will only have to be cleaned out once a year, a process that can be done either by hand or by vacuum truck. South Boston’s Public Works department will be responsible for the maintenance of the gutter bins.