Since the founding of the Anacostia Watershed Society in 1989, there has been a constant effort by AWS and volunteers to pick up trash. Despite these efforts, there is always more trash accumulating. Even after a clean-up, a rainfall event will re-cover the river shores with trash.
The Nash Run Trash Trap project was started as a response to this problem with the support and funding of the District Department of the Environment. The goal is to capture trash before it enters the main tidal Anacostia. The trash trap was installed around the mouth of Nash Run, which is the entrance to Kenilworth Marsh. Via this marsh, the water and trash flow into the tidal Anacostia, making it a good location to proactively catch the trash.
In February 2009, our first trash trap was installed. Although extremely effective, there was clogging in the trap and some trash still got through the barrier. Our observation and experience of the trap over the next two years gave us the knowledge to improve the effectiveness of the design. The new trap is gently angled at 5 degrees to the ground. The stream force will be used to push up trash, leaves, and branches on the screen keeping the trap (screen) free from clogging. This allows stream water to flow through the trap efficiently without backing up water behind the trap. The modified and improved design was installed in June 2011.
The trap is working well. The first design captured approximately 3,300 lbs of “pure trash,” meaning bottles and cans are emptied and organic matter such as leaves was removed, between February 2009 through June 2011. After the first year of the trash trap's installation, the trash was sorted into 47 categories and finally bagged into four major categories to allow AWS staff to study the trash characteristics by volume. Findings showed about 40% of trash is bottles and cans and 30% of trash is styrofoam. In addition to the trash trap being an effective tool to clean the Anacostia, its results are allowing AWS to gather concrete numbers to help fight for new legislation in the future.
Volunteers helping clean up the trap!
It takes the support of many volunteers to help AWS maintain the trash trap. Look at our calendar of events to see when the next clean up of the Nash Run Trash Trap is for an opportunity to help clean the river alongside our AWS staff!