By Joel Hillan

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– Trash is making its way into our rivers and eventually to the ocean. The Greenway Foundation is trying to find innovative solutions and are turning to the next generation of thinkers for ways to remove the pollutants.

Drone4 flies over the South Platte River (credit: CBS)

This year’s Clean River Design Challenge focuses on a section the Platte River adjacent to the REI building where an old Denver Water diversion gate has become a collection spot for trash and debris.

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The challenge was held at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Hydraulics Lab at the Denver Federal Center. There, a specially-created hydraulic lab flume simulates the specific waterway conditions at Confluence Park.

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Team Trash Trouts’ Isaac Jimenez Junior from the Colorado School of Mines is proud of his team’s prototype.

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“I’m just checking out to see how our trash removal is working, it looks like it’s working good, pretty proud of it.”

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The team’s prototype did well in a low-flow scenario, but didn’t do as well in the high-flow trial.

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“Our outer cage didn’t raise up so we missed a lot of trash, I mean our concept is there, our implementation wasn’t perfect,” he said.

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Lauren Berent is the Events Director for The Greenway Foundation, the environmental non-profit who organized the challenge.

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“Our goal is to have them create a scaled model of a device that would go in stream, in one of our urban water ways to pull some trash out that’s made its way into our river,” she said.

Drone4 flies over the South Platte River (credit: CBS)

Even with a year of planning, things didn’t go as planned for the River Guardians, also from the Colorado School of Mines—they learned their battery fried during an earlier test.

“The last time we came here we were a lot more successful with our tests than we were today.”

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Although the top prize ended up going to an industrial design team from Metro State University, Bryan Cazier was grateful for the opportunity.

“If you just try your hardest, you’re going to gain some kind of experience and some kind of skills you wouldn’t otherwise develop,” said Cazier.

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The winner of the first challenge in the 2015-2016 school year, was also won by an industrial design team from Metropolitan State University. The Greenway Foundation is currently awaiting permits from the City of Denver to pilot that prototype in a section of the Cherry Creek in Denver. They hope to have it in the water by the end of the year.

LINK: The Greenway Foundation | Clean River Design Challenge

Joel Hillan


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