Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Cape Fear’s first Trash Trout will start collecting river waste this week

A Trash Trout like the one above will be installed at Burnt Mill Creek this Friday.

WILMINGTON — A litter collection device will be installed at Burnt Mill Creek this Friday as part of a statewide effort to keep plastics out of Cape Fear waterways. 

Cape Fear River Watch, in partnership with Waterkeepers Carolina, announced Tuesday the establishment of a Trash Trout to collect large pieces of floating debri in the creek. 

The passive device is essentially a large floating cage that catches trash while upstream booms direct floating debris into the trap. Smaller organic material can pass through the cage and wildlife can pass below it.

Asheville Greenworks created the Trash Trout and each one costs $10,000 to manufacture. 

Roadside littering accounts for approximately 75% of the trash in the nation’s waterways, according to Asheville Greenworks’s Director of Operations Eric Bradford explained in the press release.

“Each time it rains, trash is funneled through our storm drain systems directly into our creeks,” Bradford said. “Since most municipal stormwater systems lack filters or other mechanisms to keep the trash from entering our waterways, these Trash Trouts are necessary tools for our communities to clean up our rivers.”

Once trash enters a water source, it begins to degrade, which leads to the formation of microplastics. The pieces are then consumed by wildlife (and humans) or washes into connecting waterways until they reach the ocean. 

The Trash Trouts are part of Cape Fear River Watch’s larger microplastics program, which collects and analyzes monthly water samples to monitor microplastic levels. Cape Fear River Watch will service the Trash Trout and will collect data on every piece of litter collected. 

Cape Fear River Watch Water Quality Programs Manager Rob Clark hopes to bring more Trash Trouts to the basin.

“This project is a natural extension of our microplastics data collection,” Water Quality Programs Manager Rob Clark said. “Our goal is to interrupt the waste stream to protect aquatic habitat while educating the community about the plastic crisis.” 

The River Watch hopes to gain sponsorships from businesses and individuals to help install more devices. 

“If we all pitch in together, we can make a real difference when it comes to plastic pollution,” Clark said. 

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