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Here's exactly how much crud and debris Denver street sweepers pick up

Last year, Denver street sweepers collected enough dirt and debris from residential streets to create a 20-foot pile that would fill the field and sidelines at Mile High.

KUSA – Last year, Denver street sweepers collected enough dirt and debris from residential streets to create a 20-foot pile that would fill the field and sidelines at Mile High.

“We captured over 62,000 cubic yards which is about 125 million pounds of material,” Jeff Williams said.

Williams is the city’s stormwater quality manager. He inadvertently deals with dirt and everything else the street sweepers picked up in 2017.

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“We estimate that there’s over 12,000 pounds of lead that was removed through our program,” Williams said. “16 pounds of mercury was removed.”

Denver Public Works provided 9NEWS a list of pollutants collected by street sweepers that included lead, mercury, chloride, zinc, copper, total phosphorus, total nitrogen and petro hydrocarbons.

Sweepers picked up 517,339 pounds of petro hydrocarbons (think oil, gas and diesel that drips from cars) which accounted for more than half of the material collected.

“All that gets caught in sediment that can get washed down into our storm system,” Williams said. “So it’s our job to do what we can to keep that from getting down the storm sewer.”

Williams said all the waste material collected from Denver streets is trucked to the Denver-Arapahoe Disposal Site.

“An engineered site that is capable of holding all of these pollutants and not releasing them to the environment,” he said.

This year, Denver is rolling out a new fleet of street sweepers imported from Italy. Denver Public Works purchased 15 of the $230,000 sweepers for $3.4 million using capital equipment replacement funds, spokeswoman Heather Burke said. The sweepers arrived in October and were briefly used in the fall.

Credit: SKY9

They’ll hit the residential streets on Tuesday morning.

“The old sweepers are kind of like the cartoon Pig-Pen where he’s got the little dust cloud behind him,” explained Doug Legg, a street maintenance manager. “These new sweepers with the vacuum assist are able to suck up all that ambient dust.”

Legg said the new sweepers are also equipped with four-wheel steering that will help drivers dodge parked cars people forget to move.

“The front axle steers and the rear axle steers so it’s able to make a really tight radius smoothly,” he said.

Street sweeping in Denver begins Tuesday, April 3. Check for posted red and white signs about parking restrictions. If you’ve gotten one of those $50 tickets, you probably don’t need the reminder.

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