Where does the South Platte River water come from? Where does the water go after Denver? This week we found out during “Journey of the South Platte River” summer camp!
We kicked off the week on Monday by getting to know the world’s water and our fellow campers with a game. Campers took turns tossing a sticky hand at a world map, and tracking if the hand stuck to land or water. Not surprisingly, water covers most of the earth, and so most campers hit water!
Our second activity was critter crawl where we began by going over the South Platte River’s watershed address. Our river begins in the mountains before heading east towards Denver. After Denver, our water continues east into Nebraska where the water flows into the Platte River. From there, the water flows into the Missouri River before the Mississippi River, and finally the Gulf of Mexico. So, our water travels pretty far from us in Denver!
On Tuesday, we were excited for a special guest to come to camp. We started the day with a critter crawl to catch the small macroinvertebrates that live in our water. The focus of the critter crawl was not only catching critters, but also to look for signs of storm drains and storm drain outfalls that flow into our River. We found one! Across from our critter crawl spot, there is a storm drain outfall. Why is that important? Because, storm drains are essential infrastructure to prevent flooding in our neighborhoods… but can also transport trash from our streets to our water.
Storm drains, and keeping them clean, was the focus of our guest. DOTI (Denver Department of Infrastructure) visited camp with their storm drain cleaning trucks. They demonstrated the fascinating way they keep the 22,000+ storm drains in our city clear of debris to prevent as much trash and pollutants from flowing into our waterways. A nice bonus was that they also sprayed all our campers with their industrial sprinkler they keep on their trucks!
Friday is the most fun at camp! Just like campers will be moving on from SPREE camp after this day, on Friday we focused on where our River’s water goes after it flows through Denver. Campers created a human map of the South Platte River’s watershed address that we learned about on Monday. We ended the day with a scientific critter crawl where we recorded the different species of animals we caught. It turns out that some macroinvertebrates cannot live in polluted waters, and by finding them we can assess the general health of our river water. We found an awesome variety of macros which let us know our river water is in pretty good shape for a major city!
We had a blast this week at camp, and we can’t wait to hang out with your family again soon down by the river!