College Students Lead Conservation
The Greenway Foundation hosts an annual, year-long competition for Colorado university students designed to stretch their engineering and creative thinking skills while addressing pollution in the South Platte River. This real-world competition has led to real change for our waterways. A design for The Greenway Foundation’s Nautilus originally came from students in this very competition.
2022 Clean Water Challenge Competition
This year The Greenway Foundation worked with two teams from Colorado School of Mines for the Clean Water Challenge. We tasked the teams with removing three pollutants: phosphorus, nitrogen, and E. coli. Teams spend two semesters researching the problem and coming up with a concept.
Both teams presented in April 2022, and each presented an innovative solution. One team designed a solution to retrofit an old lock-and-dam system in Cherry Creek remove E. coli using a sand medium and UV light. The second team tackled the issue of excess nitrogen and phosphorus in Sloan’s Lake. Their concept was to build a device to churn the water at night to reduce the instances of harmful algal blooms.
Participating in the Clean Water Challenge as a student was an interesting project that presented a lot of unusual challenges. As designers we want to make beautiful things, but creating something that cleans up trash efficiently while not marring the beautiful Colorado landscape was a unique experience. Of course, winning the design challenge with Nautilus was incredibly rewarding on its own, but getting to see your idea come to life and function as intended in the real world is quite remarkable.
Previous Clean Water Challenges
Despite the significant evolution in the health of the South Platte River, the reality of trash and other forms of pollution continue to be an ongoing challenge to the river. In response to this reality, Greenway challenged higher education students in the previous Clean Water Challenges to develop designs for urban waterway trash removal devices.
The Greenway Foundation works to develop promising innovations from the Clean Water Challenge into real-world solutions. The Nautilus passive trash removal system was originally presented in the 2015-2016 Clean Water Challenge.