6th Annual Creek Week Seeks To Clean Watershed, Educate Public

Sep 26, 2019

The 6th Annual Creek Week begins this Saturday, Sept. 28, and continues until Sunday, Oct. 6. During those nine days volunteers will gather to remove litter and debris along creeks, trails, parks and open spaces from Palmer Lake to Pueblo and beyond. Alli Schuch, Fountain Creek Watershed Outreach Coordinator, sat down with 91.5 KRCC’s Abigail Beckman to talk about the event.

A map of the Fountain Creek Watershed.
Credit Courtesy photo / City of Colorado Springs - https://coloradosprings.gov/water-resources-engineering-stormwater/page/our-watershed

Highlights from the interview

On the reach of the Fountain Creek Watershed District

A watershed is an area of land and water that drains to a common point. Our home watershed here is the Fountain Creek Watershed named after Fountain Creek. It starts up in Palmer Lake and goes all the way down to Pueblo. The headwaters of Fountain Creek are actually right behind the Wal-Mart in Woodland Park. Our whole watershed is comprised of eight different communities.

On the things that pollute and contaminate Fountain Creek

The issue is multifaceted for sure. We know that we have folks living and illegally camping along our creeks. That is definitely an impact. We also live in a very windy area and those days where we see the trash trucks going around town and people [haven’t] properly bagged and tied that trash, it can go flying through the wind. There is some intentional littering going on out the car windows—we see those fires set by cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are still the number one littered item in America.

On the impact Creek Week has had on volunteers

A group of volunteers following a previous Creek Week.
Credit Photo Courtesy Alli Schuch / Fountain Creek Watershed District

It's really been a beautiful story about how people didn't realize that there was a creek even in their backyard or in their neighborhood. It's really about changing the culture of our community. You go to many other places around Colorado and they've embraced those waterways and they have beautiful places to recreate and shops and dining along those creeks. That's something that our citizens want as well here.

On whether or not the amount of litter is going down

Unfortunately, we're not seeing the amount of trash decrease just yet. I would say that we're getting out a lot of the historical debris and trash that's maybe been trapped in certain areas for a long time. That's why we're asking our crews, "Hey let's collect a little bit more data then when you're out there what kind of trash are you finding?"

On what she expects to see if littering, pollution and illegal dumping continue to affect the watershed

We all make an impact on our waterways and there's a lot of little things that everyone can do to do their part. As that changes, we need to have more pressure on our leadership here in our communities to say we deserve better. When you go to all these other communities— Denver's got people surfing in their waterways and Pueblo has the Riverwalk —Colorado Springs needs to do a better job of keeping up with our neighbors around the state and embracing our waterways.

Information on how to get involved can be found on the Creek Week 2019 website.

Data from the City of Colorado Springs shows the number of volunteers has grown each year during the annual Creek Week event, as has the amount of litter and debris collected.
Credit City of Colorado Springs / https://coloradosprings.gov/creekweek