“Litter Gitter” device clearing trash from waterways in Jefferson County

When severe weather strikes, it can make a mess of our homes and neighborhoods and with time, much of that debris makes its way through storm drains into Alabama’s waterways.

“Every piece of trash that falls onto the ground ends up in our waterways through storm water,” said Freshwater Land Trust Communications and Special Projects Coordinator Sally Sperling.

“It really seems like a fools errand, you know, we’ll fight, we’ll clean up the creek and have this area looking nice, and then you’ll have a flood and looks the exact same way,” said Osprey Initiative Regional Field Leader Mitch Lowe.

A labor of Futility, that is until the Mobile-based Osprey Initiative partnered with the Freshwater Land Trust and the Jefferson County Department of Health.

“This was a project to try and address the litter issues that we have in Birmingham,” Sperling said.

That partnership allowing creative minds to come up with a tech solution. The Osprey Initiative founder created the Litter Gitter to rid creeks of trash after rain events. As water comes down stream from storm water runoff, the device collects trash floating in creeks throughout Jefferson County.

“The first rain event, the slack is taken out of the line and fills up with trash pretty quickly,” Lowe said.

The Osprey Initiative tracks rainfall, inspects the lines and collect the trapped garbage within a day or two of a rain event.

“We’ll separate aluminum from our plastic, from our metal and then, break that down into sub categories,” Lowe said.

And in the three years since the First Litter Gitter was put into service, “I believe we’ve collected 14,000 lbs of trash through this project,” Sperling said.

There are eleven Litter Gitters in creeks within the Birmingham and surrounding areas. The most recent one was installed at Buck Creek Park in Alabaster earlier this month.

This story originally appeared on ABC 33/40 by Diamond Nunnally. Read and view the original story 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.