Keeping storm drains across Mobile free from debris

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – With hundreds of thousands of drains across the Mobile area, it is easy to overlook them. But, if you take a closer look, some are labeled with a fish, indicating that those drains lead out to local waters.

According to the City of Mobile Assistant Engineer Rosemary Ginn, these storm water drains have been labeled with a fish for about 15 years.

“That is to let folks know, with that fish, that the rainwater, anything that goes into that inlet, to that drainage structure on the street, it is going to get into a water body and downtown mobile, it may get to the bay,” Ginn said.

Unlike our sewage waters that go through treatment and are filtered, stormwater drains are directly routed to local waters. Anything that is caught in these drains will eventually end up in Mobile Bay.

There are 34,000 inlets across Mobile, 110 litter interceptors and 139 catch basins screens installed across the area.

This is done by working with Osprey Initiative, an environment contractor based in Mobile, to place debris collectors across the Mobile area.

“What Mobile has done a little more progressive than other communities that are now catching up, is actually think about source and where the litter is actually coming from and then tailoring your solution to the specific issue,” said owner of Osprey Initiative Don Bates. “We’ve developed litter getters that work in live streams, we have litter booms and then we have litter interceptors and modified litter interceptors that are all specific tools once a specific issue identified. And that’s been really kind of the secret to what’s been so successful here.”

The city of Mobile Environmental Services reported that from 2020 to 2022, the most common debris found in these interceptors were plastic bags. Styrofoam cups is the second most common.

These litter collectors do not just keep our local waters free from debris, but they also protect the wildlife by ensuring they do not mistake litter for food or even become entangled.

“We don’t want our fish to have the stuff, like litter, when we eat them,” Ginn said. “If people don’t litter, then we do not have to worry about it.”

This story originally appeared on FOX10 News by Natalie Williamson. View the original 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.