Keeping Florida clean is not completely down the drain. And we say that quite literally. This week, our team had the great privilege of being the first conservation center in the state of Florida to install a patented catch basin basket called Littatrap into two of our storm drains. The basket, manufactured by Enviropod, prevents trash and other debris carried by stormwater from entering the storm drain system and polluting our oceans. The device that originated in New Zealand has spread all throughout Australia, Canada and was brought over to the United States three years ago with the support of Clean Waters USA.
During this rainy season, we bear the risks of compromised stormwater runoff going directly into our canals, creeks, the Loxahatchee River, and the Intracoastal Waterway. But, the LittaTrap baskets are bucking one of the insidious evils that end up in our waterways, which is thousands of plastic debris. The newly installed mesh basket is designed to capture and retain 100% of plastic and other gross solids over 5 mm. The trap has high hydraulic conductivity, lightweight and is structurally robust, designed with engineered inert plastic for a 25-year lifespan. Needless to say, the LittaTraps will be taking our cleanup sort reports by the helm and enhancing what we know about the greatest pollutants in the region.
In previous case studies, Enviropod has found that the most common items found in stormwater runoff are plastic fragments, plastic film, cigarette butts and pre-production plastic pellets. Sound familiar? In 2020, Florida beach cleanups that were conducted by LMC and partnering organizations collected 30,843 hard plastic pieces, 8,793 film plastic pieces, and 7,734 cigarette butts. Given LittaTraps can sustain nearly 60 pounds of this kind of debris, we anxiously await to see our conservation initiatives being more amplified in the months ahead.
Our long-term conservation goals also entail introducing this solution to areas of color that are proven to have greater health disparities based on environmental factors. Heat maps have shown that high minority populations in South Florida correlate with sites that present environmental and human health concerns. According to The Sun-Sentinel, the link between race and poverty with polluting industries is well-documented in neighborhoods where the annual median household income is equal to or less than 65% of the statewide median. It’s also been shown to affect populations that are made up of 25% minority, foreign-born, or lacking English language proficiency.
As we add more LittaTraps on all campus storm drains, and present to communities of color, we encourage you to discover how plastic waste ties back to you and your neighborhood. The waste collected and sorted through this installation, and general beach cleanups could be the difference in your family’s water quality or the food on a child’s plate just a couple of blocks away. So, continue to stay in tune with the debris we find in our drains and the success we’re making on our conservation homepage and “Sorting it Out” podcast.