A recent environmental lawsuit argues (article link below) that the total maximum daily load (TMDL) or the amount of pollutants that can be in the Anacostia River without causing environmental damage, was missing a correctly defined maximum. The TMDL looks not at how much trash should be removed (“trash diet”), but how much can be allowed to stay.
There are currently four (4) Bandalong Litter Traps on Anacostia River and its tributaries, capturing trash and debris considered to be non-point pollution from stormwater runoff. The original pilot project with the first Bandalong Litter Trap began in 2009, with the Bandalong proving to be so effective and efficient that three (3) more have been purchased over the past few years. Tons and tons of litter have been captured by the Bandalongs and kept from going into the Potomac and journey further down into the Chesapeake Bay. Not only have the Bandalongs been able to capture litter and debris, but they have performed in a wide range of velocities in the flashy urban streams.
Mike Bolinder, former Anacostia Riverkeeper stated: “As physical best management practice, the Bandalong Litter Trap is a remarkably effective tool for capturing floating trash without impacting fish or wildlife health. But equal to their value as litter capturing devices, the Anacostia watershed’s three (at the time) Bandalong Litter Traps serve as remarkable teaching opportunities to educate the public about marine debris and river ecology and generating litter characterization data that informs the public.”
While the Bandalong has proven to be a useful tool for the District Department of Energy and the Environment in capturing trash and debris, either people need to learn to put their trash where it is supposed to go or more needs to be done. This problem is not just DC’s problem, but the problem playing out across the US and every other country.
Our Bandalong traps will continue to remove heaps of garbage from the Patomac River tributary, but in order to ensure our waters stay clean, we must change how people approach trash disposal.