Foley seeks grant to bring litter trap to city

FOLEY – The City of Foley is working closely with the Mobile Bay National Estuary to place a litter trap within the city as an effort to decrease trash flow in the Bon Secour Watershed. The litter trap will be modeled after those being used in multiple locations in Mobile with a very high success rate.

“One of the top objectives of our Bon Secour Watershed management plans was to reduce some of the litter going downstream,” said Leslie Gahagan, environmental manager. “It was identified that the ditch going under Cedar Street is the worst source. So the National Estuary has a grant, and they’ve worked with this company called Osprey Initiative to put in these litter traps.”

The city would commit to a one-year contract with the company, and the installation and maintenance for the year would equal near $1,400. The National Estuary program would then reimburse the city $5,000 for the installation and the first three months of maintenance.

“It’s a $1,000 a month maintenance cost, that’s where the money’s basically going,” said Gahagan. “Osprey Initiative comes in and they will remove all of the litter, recycle everything that can be recycled, and then haul the rest off. It’s been very successful in Mobile, they’ve put it in several different streams and it’s worked. They’ve gotten the litter down around 98 percent.”

The final negotiations are still in the works, as well as the final contract amount. Once everything has been settled, Gahagan plans to bring the contract before the council for approval.

“The first year we can see what are all the problems and how it will work,” said councilman Ralph Hellmich. “Over the years there’s been a group of people in Bon Secour who have been upset because of the amount of trash … This will help in that particular area.”

While there was a grant offered for two years, the council feels a one-year contract would be more beneficial; if the trap doesn’t have a high success rate they can change tactics.

Similar to shrimp nets, the traps rise and fall with the water level. Judging by the traps in Mobile, they are placed on the edge of the concrete, and when the water comes the nets fill up and capture litter.

One of the main concerns voiced at council focused on flooding, and if anything would prevent the water from backing up were the trap to become filled. Also regarding flooding were questions on if the traps would be monitored during rain events.

Hellmich stated that since the trap was like a shrimp net, if it did get full then trash would simply begin bypassing it, so no flooding would occur.

“The trap is pretty much at the surface because that’s where all the floating stuff is heading down,” said Hellmich. “Bags, cans, everything, so that’s what it’s catching most of.”

With the trap near the top, water will be moving underneath it, allowing for continuous flow and reduced flooding.

The shopping carts that are often found in the watershed are another major concern, but Gahagan said that while the city would be the ones to haul them off, damage to the traps that could be caused from the carts was covered in the contract, along with repairs or replacement.

Once the contract has been finalized, it will be brought before the council for consideration.

As originally published in Gulf Coast News Today by Jessica Vaughn. See original story.

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Initial tests indicate a 80+% success rate in preventing the downstream loss of floating litter. Osprey handles all aspects of installing and maintaining the Litter Gitter. Litter is separated from vegetative debris.