Fifteen months ago, a father and son duo had an idea and ran with it.
Emilio Lopez, 29, and Eddie Lopez, 66— two MDC alumni— collaborated to create curb inlet filters, a device placed on the curb to filter debris from entering the sewer system.
The filters have been installed at six locations in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
Emilio, who earned his associate in arts degree from MDC in 2005, worked closely with his father Eddie, who earned his associate in arts degree from MDC in 1986, to put his father’s idea into action.
“He saw a need for [curb inlet] filters because of the flooding that occurs on the streets due to pollution getting inside the storm drains,” Emilio said.
They created the filter with the intentions of reducing pollution from entering storm drains and waterways, lowering street cleaning costs, and creating an environment with less flooding.
“The filter has so many side benefits, when we started doing the cost-benefit analysis we saw that it saves money because the city needs a truck to vacuum inside the sewers, the process of doing that costs more than sweeping the street,” Emilio said. “It was so practical that it was almost a no-brainer.”
Since March 2010 two filters are in place on 1825 SW 22 St. and 1790 SW 22 St.
In February 2010 the filters were added in the City of Hallandale Beach near the intersection of NE 12 Avenue and 4th Street.
Than in January of 2011 the City of Virginia Gardens added two filters at 5720 NW 37 St. and 5731 NW 37 St.
Six months ago the Lopez’s first long filter was placed on the Northbound lane side of US1, between SW 17 and 19 Avenue.
They expect more to be installed.
“This is a need they have worldwide,” Eddie said. “Right now it’s a matter of having exposure because it is new technology.”
The filters were designed with upward angle openings causing water to flow around the trash that is now restricted to enter.
Emilio and Eddie sought help from a MDC Kendall Campus engineering class in the fall semester of 2010. The students in that class built a model of the curb inlet filter.
“The students came up with design, it had to be light and strong and that the filter could be replaced quickly,” said professor Ian Davis, whose students participated in the project. “I was amazed at the results because of the way the water flows and the leaves and the debris do not block the filter.”
A patent for the curb inlet filter was approved in May 2011 and it is expected to be issued on Sept. 13.
“If it works in Miami it’s going to work in a lot of other places, this is something that could have international application,” Davis said.