South 11th Avenue is still torn up and closed to traffic just south of the College Street roundabout, where crews hired by Montana State University have been working for weeks to install new equipment to clean up stormwater before it flows into Bozeman’s creeks.

The crews are installing a system to separate out grit, oil and other pollutants from MSU’s stormwater to improve the water’s quality before it leaves campus, said Dan Stevenson, associate vice president for university services.

New technology is “getting all the gunk out of the water,” Stevenson said. It involves a mechanical vortex that spins and separates out any sand, dirt or solid particles to the edges of the system, so they’re not carried downstream by snowmelt and rainwater.

There’s a flurry of work going on to get the work completed and the street reopened before school starts in mid-August, Stevenson said.

MSU has 16 miles of underground pipe that transport stormwater into the city’s system, according to the city of Bozeman’s website.

MSU’s stormwater flows into Mandeville Creek and Bozeman Creek, which feed eventually into the East Gallatin River and Missouri River.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality, following the Clean Water Act, determined several years ago that water quality in Bozeman and Mandeville creeks has been hurt by natural and manmade causes.

Those include sediments, fertilizers, grass clippings, E.coli bacteria from pet waste and wildlife, litter, and oil, grease, metals and detergents from car spills, improper oil changes and car washing, according to the city’s and MSU’s joint five-year Stormwater Management Plan, updated in February.

The plan reported that MSU budgeted $175,000 over two years for the stormwater improvement project’s design and installation at College and 11th.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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