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.

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