(WAYCROSS, Ga.) - It’s unsightly. It’s disgusting, and it’s been going on for years. Every time it rains in Mobile, mounds of trash flush into Dog River. A possible solution to the problem is located in Waycross, Georgia. Tuesday, LOCAL 15 News traveled there to see how it works and how effective it’s been.
The Satilla River attracts anglers and avid outdoorsmen from all over. Known for its Red Breast Bream population, the beautiful black water river boasts sugar white sand bars, cypress trees with seemingly endless roots and breathtaking sunsets.
But several years ago, the Satilla River developed another reputation. One that isn’t so picturesque.
“Oh, it was disgusting,” said Donald Berryhill with the Satilla Riverkeeper.
The Satilla had become a trash-ridden river. After every rain, mounds of trash would float down it.
“Everything from cushions and basketballs, styrofoam and plastic, wood, all kind of waste, even furniture would be floating down the river,” said Berryhill. “It destroyed the beauty of the river.”
The problem is that all the litter in town flows into the storm drains, which eventually winds up in the Satilla River. But in 2009 officials in Waycross discovered a unique way to trap the trash. In April 2010, the city finished installing what’s called a litter trap in Tebeau Canal.
“It has made a difference,” said city engineer Frank Baugh. “It’s intercepted the vast majority of litter entering the river from the city.”
And the city says, it’s relatively easy to maintain, too. Periodically and primarily after a heavy rain, a crane lifts the basket full of trash after workers finish pushing the litter in and close the gate. Twenty minutes later, the trash is out of the water and into a dumpster.
Waycross says the $130,000 investment has meant 10-12 dumpster loads of trash a year are no longer flowing down the Satilla.
“Within the first 15 miles of this litter trap here, it’s drastically improved its appearance down river,” said Berryhill.
“Is this something you would recommend to other communities that are experiencing similar problems with litter in their rivers?” asked LOCAL 15’s Andrea Ramey.
“Absolutely we would recommend this,” replied Berryhill.
While it doesn’t stop every piece of plastic or trash from entering the Satilla River, the litter trap has helped preserve what so many people cherish about the black water river.
And perhaps one day it will help stop the flow of trash down Dog River.