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Montgomery County Installs 'Litter Trap' to Keep Trash Out of Waterways

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Thursday, April 14, 2022   

Montgomery County has installed its first-ever "litter trap," which will capture trash and debris and prevent it from flowing downstream into the Anacostia River and eventually Chesapeake Bay.

Located in the Lockridge Drive Tributary, the floating trap is anchored to the banks and uses the stream current to guide the debris into it.

Ryan Zerbe, watershed outreach planner for the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, said the litter trap is one way to keep Maryland waterways free of trash pollution. Plastic bottles make up 60% of all the trash found in other traps in the Anacostia River.

"Any litter in our streams ends up going into our drinking water," Zerbe pointed out. "And water treatment plants can only treat so many things. Unfortunately, until we change our behavior, we'll need tools like trash traps to keep our streams clean, and the more we eliminate litter, the better."

The project is in collaboration with Anacostia Riverkeeper, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The trap is the eighth of its kind installed in the Anacostia River Watershed.

Jeffrey Popp, senior program officer at the Chesapeake Bay Trust, said in addition to the installation, the project also focuses on behavioral change to prevent people from littering in the first place.

"This project is right in a neighborhood," Popp explained. "Everybody who walks past it understands what it is. It has a sign on it that explains what it is and what it does, and so the goal here is that people will again see the amount of trash, especially after a rainstorm, and understand that this is a problem that is easily fixed."

As part of the grant, the Montgomery County Conservation Corps will go out once a week and sift through the trash, divide it into different categories, weigh it, and then share the data with the county. The trash trap project was funded through the Montgomery County Watershed Restoration and Outreach Grant Program, a partnership between the county and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.


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