Jefferson County and Osprey Initiative removing thousands of pounds of litter from local waterways

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – There’s a new project ongoing to keep your drinking water cleaner in Jefferson County.

The county is partnering with the Osprey Initiative to place “Litter Gitters” across the county in different streams and creeks. The devices trap litter that finds its way into waterways.

The devices have already removed more than 17,000 pounds from different streams and creeks in Jefferson County.

“It is an absurd amount of weight and most of that weight is Styrofoam cups, it is empty plastic bottles. It is really light material so when you realize the volume of Styrofoam cups it takes to get to 17,000 pounds, it is just so much stuff,” said Osprey Initiative Regional Manager Mitch Lowe.

The Osprey team has operated “Litter Gitters” in our community since 2019, but Jefferson County leaders want the project to grow.

“Now we are moving out and we are branching out into more creeks, rivers and streams because it has been so successful,” said Jefferson County Roads and Transportation Education Training Coordinator Hana Berres.

Jefferson County will spend $125,000 a year for the next three years to help increase the number of “Litter Gitters” in the county to 14 and project leaders say the additional units are an absolute necessity.

“Any litter that ends up on the street off of Overton Road, Old Leeds Road is going to end up in a storm drain and wash straight down this creek. About a quarter mile downstream, we have the confluence with the Cahaba River. So basically we are putting the trap right here in order to prevent the litter from washing off these streets from ending up in the Cahaba,” said Lowe.

The team recently installed one of the newest “Litter Gitters” in Fuller Creek. First, they walk the shore, picking up whatever litter is there. Then they hammer anchors into the ground and tie boom lines to them to lead future litter into the traps.

While impressive, the fact that they remove so much trash from our waterways is a frustrating one.

“It really is a shame that there is so much litter. A kid that grows up in central Alabama should not have to drive to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to play in a clear mountain stream,” said Lowe.

This story originally appeared on WBRC. View the story online here.


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The patented Litter Gitter is a tactical in-stream litter collection device used to intercept floating litter from stormwater runoff. The Osprey team handles all aspects of installing and maintaining these “trash traps” and compiles data on the items caught in them, recycling as much of the litter as possible.