November 30, 2018 - Augusta, GA - The City of Augusta has a new method for curbing the amount of litter and plastic waste that reaches the Savannah River. With the help of Savannah Riverkeeper and the Bigwater Rescue Foundation, the city’s Engineering Department has secured and three “Watergoat” trash traps in local waterways notorious for debris from high traffic: Lake Olmstead, Rae’s Creek, and the Sibley Mill outfall of the Augusta Canal. Savannah Riverkeeper has installed two so far, with the last going in early next week. The device is essentially a floating boom and net that attach easily to embankments, stormwater outfalls, canals or creeks, to gather floating trash before it reaches the main waterway, in this case the Savannah River.
“Even with a robust cleanup program, litter has gotten to be such a major problem for our local waterways,” said Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus. “We will continue our efforts with the city and other partners to curb waste and debris in the community, but the fact is everything that is not disposed of correctly reaches the river. The Watergoats will serve as our last line of defense.”
The specially-designed trash traps are virtually indestructible, easily and safely maintained without getting in the water, and what’s best, they are inexpensive both to purchase and to operate. Watergoats are used in more than 80 locations around the country, each collecting on average more than 125 lbs. of litter every month. But that’s a low estimate- SRK retrieved more than 700 lbs. of trash from the Rae’s Creek location after just two weeks.
“Given the history of these locations, we expect Augusta’s Watergoats will collect large amounts very quickly,” said SRK’s Truck Carlson, who will head up maintenance of the trap. “Especially after rain events, we typically see a rush of in litter in the waterways. So these traps will be hugely beneficial to trapping that.”
Savannah Riverkeeper will maintain the two traps collecting and weighing trash weekly as well as reporting on the type and levels of trash collected, and recommended steps for future litter prevention. They’ll be using volunteers from the organization as well as from the Veterans for Clean Water program, whose focus for the winter months is on cleanups and restoration in the community. In addition, two students from Richmond Academy will be monitoring the trap at Hiers Pond as part of a school project.
“This is something we saw a need for in our community and on the river, and we’re grateful that the city got on board,” said Bonitatibus, however, the nonprofit organization’s trash collection and maintenance of the traps will require support. To help fund efforts to keep the Watergoats operational in Augusta, please consider donating at www.savannahriverkeeper.org.
Savannah Riverkeeper serves as the primary guardian of the Savannah River, striving to respect, protect, and improve the entire river basin through education, advocacy, and action. We are a 501 c(3) non-profit organization funded by individuals and foundations that share our commitment to creating a clean and healthy river that sustains life and is cherished by its people. For more information please visit: www.savannahriverkeeper.org