(MOBILE, Ala.) As a heavy rain fell Monday, it marked the first test of a new litter trap aimed at cutting down on the garbage flowing into Dog River.
The city of Mobile, under pressure from ADEM fines and legal action by environmental nonprofit action group Dog River Clearwater Revival, installed the $26,000 system last week on Eslava Creek.
“We were really excited to come down here and see it,” group President Kim Sweet said. “This is a learning lesson. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
The system of booms, galvanized steel poles and a steel cage proved reasonably effective Monday, catching everything from plastic bottles to plastic wrappers. However, Sweet said the rain didn’t last long enough to get large amounts of trash flowing downstream.
”It wasn’t enough and it’s still too early to tell how effective the system will be,” Sweet said.
Sweet said the real test of the system will be closer to summertime, during more serious rain and flooding events.
Sweet did spot one issue with the system. A stormwater drain dumping silt and helping flush trash into the creek is just feet outside of the booms and flows downstream past the trap.
“This is obviously an artery coming in from the neighborhood over here,” Sweet said. “It’s something we need to address.”
But Sweet said the system is adjustable, and they could potentially move the booms and cage to make the system as effective as possible.
If the system proves effective, Sweet said they’re looking at possibly installing two more traps on other creeks. Dog River Clearwater Revival has raised more than $100,000 through fundraising and grants for new traps.
While Dog River Clearwater Revival have high hopes for the litter trap after lobbying five years to get one installed, Sweet said litter traps alone won’t solve the problem.
“We understand one trap is not going to catch everything,” Sweet said. “This is a multi-faceted problem, and we need to start looking at multi-faceted solutions.”
Among additional solutions, Sweet mentioned a recycling program and better community involvement and awareness.