Saturday, October 31, 2015

Misleading Litter Trap Statistics?

I recently read in a news story that Mobile's new Bandalong Litter Trap in Eslava Creek has removed 42 cubic yards of debris since it was installed. Each cubic yard represents about 5 large barrels of volume. So 42 cubic yards is about 202 barrels of material removed.

It is just as I expected. The City of Mobile is already spouting off Litter Trap removal statistics to the media. I suppose you gotta justify a $660,000 expenditure somehow. Then the litter trap manufacturer can in turn repeat those big removal statistics to prove the effectiveness of their litter trap product.

But let us look closer at the litter trap removal statistics. The first red flag is the news story says it was 42 cubic yards of "debris" removed, not trash which is all that should be removed from the waterway.

One look at the contents in a litter trap basket while it gets emptied shows the majority of material in the litter trap basket is often natural debris such as leaves and twigs and grass.

In other words, unless the City or some other volunteer group separates the actual trash from the natural debris, we will never have a clear idea on just how much trash is actually removed from Eslava Creek. We will just have misleading removal statistics that include the volume of leaves and other natural debris removed too.

The way I will judge the effectiveness of any litter trap is whether there is trash floating around in the water. The volume of leaves and grass the litter trap captures is meaningless to me unless you want to assign that task to the wasted taxpayer costs involved in removing the natural debris and hauling off that heavy wet load to the dump.

I’d rather read statistics on how many plastic bottles, aluminum cans etc., are removed from Eslava Creek and recycled.

If you were to remove just the trash seen in the litter trap in this view it probably would not fill a barrel half way. In other words, the City of Mobile workers waste time and money removing a lot of leaves and twigs to remove a little floating stormwater trash.

Look at the contents of the old DESMI litter trap being removed. It is almost all leaves, grass and twigs.

Look at the basket content of the new Bandalong litter trap being removed. It too is almost all leaves, grass and twigs. I am not impressed when hearing about how many cubic yards of 'debris' is removed. I would rather know many actual barrels of trash were removed and how much of it was recycled.

When I have to paddle by storm water trash like this 100 yards away from the litter trap, the trashy polluted scenery of Dog River and Eslava Creek has not changed at least to this paddler. 

I just wonder how much taxpayer money was wasted coralling leaves and twigs, emptying the heavy ass soaked natural debris into a truck and hauling it to the dump or trash transfer station. Money that might have been spent on labor to remove the storm water trash floating in the water next to the litter trap and elsewhere in the creek.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dog River Litter Woes Continue

So, how did the City of Mobile's new $660,000 litter trap do in keeping Dog River clean? I took a paddle up Dog River today to investigate and report.

Apparently the rain did not come down hard enough and long enough to propel all the City of Mobile's Eslava Creek storm water litter all the way to the Stormwater System's litter trap. The photo above shows trash a few hundred feet above the litter trap whose boom can be seen in the background. For this kayaker the trash polluted Eslava Creek scenery is still ugly as hell!

Polluted shoreline of Dog River Park downstream of the litter trap.

There is so much broken up styrofoam along the shoreline of Dog River Park it looks like snow.

The wetlands in front of the River Landing Condos are rather trashy. The Condos are downstream of the litter trap.

Another view of the River Landing Condo's property. This Condo shoreline trash pollution is not the result of the litter trap failing to work. Nope. As water levels rose high enough to free up the nearby trash in the wetlands (already downstream of the litter trap), which gets ignored year after year, the strong winds out of the southeast blew the loose floatable trash onto the Condo property.

So, to me the installation of a big new litter trap has NOT resolved the City of Mobile's storm water pollution problem in Dog River. Just look at what River Landing Condo owners still get to see after a windy rainstorm.

Yup, when the water levels go high and the wind blows it leaves a distinctive trash ring around some Dog River shorelines. Owning waterfront property along Dog River's trash zone can be a significant burden when it rains heavy or storms.

Lovely huh?

Nope, I still see no improvement in the trash polluted Dog River and Eslava Creek despite a Litter Trap. This photo taken just downstream of Dog River Park.

The problem has to be addressed before there can be improvement. What is the problem? No one is employed to remove the City of Mobile's MS4 trash from where pollutes the shorelines. I saw no one working to remove any of the trash except for a few residents.

It is amazing how quick the powers that be get the storm trash and debris removed from an affected road but when it comed to removing storm trash from an affected waterway the pollution is ignored.

Welcome to Mobile where the City leaders are taking the lead role in seeing how much litter the community can put in the Alabama public waterways in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Storm Water Trash Polluted Sanitary Sewer Right-of-Way. Who will clean it up? This trash has been ignored for YEARS.

Storm Water Trash Polluted Railroad Right-of-Way. Who will clean it up? This trash has been ignored for YEARS.

Storm Water Trash Polluted ALDOT Right-of-Way. Who will clean it up? This trash has been ignored for YEARS.

Dog River Wetland. Is this acceptable? What do you think?

Nope, the Dog River Watershed scenery does not seem to be changing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

South Fork Deer River

South Fork Deer River is one of only a few waterways in Mobile County you never hear me bitching about for being polluted with trash. Why not?

First, it is outside the City of Mobile jurisdictional limits. Secondly, it has no major State road crossings. Thirdly, it is in a rural area lacking any major storm water drainage system. Because of those reasons one can paddle the relatively short South Fork Deer River and see almost no shoreline trash. If there is no trash pollution to document there can be no complaints.

Much of South Fork Deer River's shoreline is salt marsh grasses.

There are some strange things to see on the horizon.

Quiet backwaters of upper South Fork Deer River.

One of the two bridges you will pass under.

This is one way to make a private boat launch canal off limits to public boat and kayak traffic.

Crazy Coot paddling in the river.

One of the ships you might see while crossing the trash polluted Theodore Industrial Canal  to get to the entrance of South Fork Deer River.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Moore Creek & St Andrews Canals

I don't want to paddle much in polluted Dog River watershed now because of a recent outbreak of people catching the dangerous Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. These are views from a short paddle in the Moore Creek and St. Andrews Canals area.

Trashy shoreline of Moore Creek.

Look at what is floating in the water under a Moore Creek dock. Yuck!

Press Register's contribution to Moore Creek. Plastic pollution.

Trashy St. Andrews Canal shoreline by Moore Creek.

St. Andrews canal water looking rather unhealthy in the upper end.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gilliard (Pelican) Island

Conditions were perfect for a couple mile crossing of open Mobile Bay waters over to Gilliard Island.

Gilliard's Island looks small but the man-made dredge spoils island is about 6 miles in perimeter.

I call it Pelican Island for an obvious reason.

If you ever want to see thousands of pelicans, paddle around Gilliard Island on a calm day.

If you're lucky a big ship will pass closely in the ship channel while you are on the east side of the island. I missed a close encounter with this ship by about half an hour.

Pelicans Galore.

Standing room only for pelicans along the rocks which surround the entire Island.

It is a surreal paddling experience to be around so many pelicans.

Always a fascinating ship to see is the Deep Blue.

Another big ship in the Theodore Industrial Canal near where I launched in North Fork Deer River.