Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful and the city plan to lower the boom – a boom-type litter trap – on floating trash in Little Lott’s Creek.
Keep Statesboro-Bulloch Beautiful, or KSBB, is a Keep America Beautiful affiliate sponsored by Statesboro’s city government, while Ogeechee Riverkeeper is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Ogeechee River and its watershed. The city covered the cost of about $1,500 to buy the boom litter trap, which Damon Mullis, executive director and riverkeeper at Ogeechee Riverkeeper, says should be delivered and installed this weekend.
The trap, purchased from Osprey Initiative LLC, uses a string of floats that support a net near the water’s surface to capture litter such as bottles, cans, cups and pieces of plastic and cardboard. But the project’s goal lies beyond simply catching trash at this one location.
“This is kind of the beginning of what we hope to be a much broader project that will not only help clean up and collect litter, but also our focus and hope is to reduce litter and use this project and the awareness that it affords to do that,” Mullis told the Statesboro Herald. “So there’s going to be an education and outreach component.”
Ogeechee Riverkeeper and KSBB will also collect data on the kinds and quantity of litter removed.
Plastic in your food
These organizations hope that showing how much trash falls into Little Lott’s Creek, and which could otherwise travel down the Ogeechee and ultimately into the Atlantic, will dissuade people from littering. Plastic trash is of particular concern, since it breaks down into “microplastics,” which Mullis notes have been found in sea salt used as table salt and in seafoods such as oysters.
“It’s a bigger problem than just being unsightly,” he said. “It has an impact downstream, and you know people end up consuming plastic in their food supply.”
If this pilot project succeeds, he hopes to have litter traps installed on other Ogeechee tributaries and drainage canals, including one or two others in or near Statesboro.
For this first trap, the selected location is behind Statesboro’s wastewater treatment plant, noted John Washington, the city’s director of public works and engineering.
“The city has been looking for ways to continue partnering with Ogeechee Riverkeeper on a stream cleanup project, and this was a very viable venture,” Washington was quoted in an Ogeechee Riverkeeper press release. “If successful, this may lead to other partnerships throughout the city.”
Referring to the device by the brand name Litter Gitter in a reply email to the newspaper, he added that the trap is designed so that wildlife can navigate over or under it.
“The goal is to have minimal impact on the environment in which the Litter Gitter is installed,” Washington wrote.
Beyond the purchase of the trap, any other costs are to be borne by Ogeechee Riverkeeper or other project partners and not by the city, he said. But installation was included in the purchase price, and other costs will be limited to supplies such as gloves and nets for cleaning the trap, according Mullis.
The trap will require regular attention to remove accumulated litter and prevent an excess buildup. As Mullis explained it, litter collection won’t necessarily have to occur on a weekly basis, but more or less frequently depending on how often significant rain occurs.
“All of the litter on the streets and in the neighborhood, after you get a heavy rain, that’s when it really seems to get flushed at one time into the local waterways, and we’ll have to schedule cleaning of the traps pretty much after every rain event,” Mullis said.
The project planners hope to have volunteers – from Keep Statesboro Bulloch Beautiful, recruited by KSBB Coordinator Amanda Clements – to empty the trap. Employees of the city’s stormwater division could also do this in a pinch, but the preference is for volunteers to take on this role, Mullis said.
“KSBB, we will be definitely recruiting volunteers,” Clements said Thursday. “It will be a very regular process to clean out the trap, so there will be a constant need for volunteers. We won’t need a lot of volunteers every time we do it because the creek is fairly small.”
At this point, any cleanup efforts also need to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and not result in large gatherings, she noted. So the need will be for a few volunteers on a regular basis.
“We’re thinking about cleaning it out once or twice a month, depending on how trashy it gets,” Clements said.
The KSBB phone number is (912) 531-4546, and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper volunteers will also be involved in aspects such as trap maintenance and possibly litter collection, Mullis said. He added that Boro Recycling, a Statesboro-based small business, is also a partner in the project.