LARAMIE — Four years ago, Brian Deurloo woke up during the early hours of the morning. A vision had come to him, one that involved an innovative solution for dealing with stormwater.
In 2016, Deurloo, a lifelong Wyoming resident, decided to start Frog Creek Partners based upon his vision.
“The idea came to me at 2:37 in the morning on my daughter’s eighth birthday, I shot up in bed with an idea on a stormwater filter and I went to my garage at three that morning and started building one out of cardboard,” Deurloo said.
A few months later, Deurloo had multiple patents submitted and won the Wyoming Technology Business Center start-up challenge, awarding him grant money to get started on his business.
“I devoted my life savings to this business and got my family on board and haven’t looked back — it’s been great,” Deurloo said.
The Gutter Bin stormwater filtration system was built to combat the problem of stormwater pollution via municipal storm drains.
“The Gutter Bins are kind of like a coffee filter for storm drains,” Deurloo said.
Typically, garbage on streets such as cigarette butts, plastics, microplastics, hydrocarbons and heavy metals enter the storm drains after heavy rain or snow melt and are dumped right back into the Laramie River.
When stormwater is filtered through the Gutter Bins, all types of trash and debris are caught by the Mundus Bag and the only thing being recirculated into watersheds is clean water. With the Gutter Bins system, the city can dump the debris from the bags every three to four months.
“A lot of people have no idea that most of the stormwater in western communities flows straight from the streets to the rivers,” Deurloo said.
Deurloo explained that stormwater pollution contributes to the unprecedented rates of pollution being seen in the world’s oceans. In fact, stormwater pollution is one of the leading causes of water degradation in the world.
“The problems we’re having in our oceans are starting right in our backyard in the Laramie River — we’ve gotta do something to stop that,” Deurloo said.
“Putting a filtration system at street level allows us to capture that pollution at the point of entry into the stormwater network — it keeps the stormwater network clear of debris but it also prevents pollution from reaching the local watershed,” Deurloo explained.
On June 5, the city of Laramie installed two of Frog Creek’s Gutter Bin filtration systems at the intersections of First Street and Ivinson Avenue and Second Street and Grand Avenue.
“We decided it was a good idea to try them out here in Laramie just this past fall, actually,” said Mark Hazelett, Laramie’s city project manager.
“Our street department does a really good job of sweeping down there (downtown) once a week, but even with that, we’re catching all sorts of stuff in these drains that would otherwise be thrown to the river,” Hazelett added.
The two Gutter Bin filtration systems in Laramie are part of a test run that the city of Laramie is embarking on to try and curb stormwater pollution entering the Laramie River. Hazelett collaborated with the streets department and Frog Creek Solutions to determine the location for the bins.
“We have these installed and we’ll run them for a year or so and see how they’re working and see how we want to proceed at that point in time,” said Eric Jack, Laramie’s city engineer.
Jack and Hazelett sounded optimistic when asked about the potential for future installation of the Gutter Bin filtration systems in Laramie.
“Whenever we do anything stormwater-related, we’re always looking for that water quality to improve our stormwater system and these were a good trial that we wanted to try in the downtown area — if they work well, we’ll be looking at other possible locations downtown or elsewhere in the city,” Jack said.
In addition to reducing watershed pollution, the Gutter Bins also save money for the city of Laramie by reducing trash buildup in the storm sewer system and preventing sediment buildup in pipes.
“It’s gonna help with our maintenance in the long run and help save money in that way,” Jack said.
“We’re always looking for creative new ways to improve the stormwater system, so this was a simple idea that we felt like we could try,” Hazelett said.
Deurloo sounded excited when asked about the potential for Frog Creek Partners, stating his desire to expand the business with the hope of installing more Gutter Bins throughout the country.
“We got the Wyoming Secretary of State’s approval to do a WIN fundraising event,” Deurloo said.
WIN stands for Wyoming Invests Now and works as a fundraising mechanism for Wyoming companies to crowdfund from Wyoming residents.
“We opened our WIN round a couple weeks ago and we’re taking on investments for people to own equity in Frog Creek Partners,” Deurloo said.
Deurloo also expressed his excitement for the Laramie community specifically.
“I’m really pleased that the city is willing to move in a direction towards trying new innovation,” he said.
“My fight is with water pollution — I believe if we can take care of the lifeblood of the earth, which is water, a lot of other things will fall into place.”
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