Huston, We have a Solution

National Public Works Week kicked off yesterday, May 18. The week works to energize and educate the public on the importance of the contribution of public works to their daily lives: planning, building, managing and operating the heart of our local communities and building the quality of life. Earth Force’s KIC-NET program embodies this mission year-round, linking a school with a nearby body of water and the local parks and recreation department to fulfill MS4 permit outreach requirements.

MSLA class at new forebay

In Denver, Huston Lake Park features a pond with wetland areas inhabited by diverse waterfowl as well as several recreation fields and facilities. Every winter, an access road becomes covered with hazardous sheets of ice as water draining from the neighborhood freezes on its way into Huston Lake. This runoff carries litter and other pollutants into the park and lake, so Denver’s wastewater engineers saw these problems as an opportunity to create water quality solutions with multiple benefits.

They began installation of a multi-use, two-phase water quality system last fall. While engineers were constructing this new system, fifth-grade students at the nearby Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) worked on their own project. MSLA is one of Denver’s ten KIC-NET (Keep It Clean – Neighborhood Environmental Trios) sites focused on hyperlocal urban watershed education.

wwmd - KIC-NET

Students visited Huston Lake to conduct preliminary water quality tests as part of the Earth Force Process. While there, they also got a first-hand look at Public Works’ water quality project in development. Denver Public Works engineer Kevin Lewis followed up by visiting the class and further explaining how the system will prevent trash and sediment from entering Huron Lake. Inspired, students chose to focus their Earth Force project on educating their community.

Together, the students created a brochure about the new features at Huston Lake Park, which they plan to share at a community event next month. They will inform the 54 households who live in Huston’s basin about how to keep the lake clean and pass out bags for collecting dog waste. Projects like this are a crucial component of Earth Force’s KIC-NET program, which is now expanding to other counties and municipalities.