Hopewell Recreation and Parks recently partnered with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) on a creative approach to mitigating litter in the Appomattox River. The collaboration included the design and installation of a storm water debris net, commonly referred to as a "trash net", that would be installed at City Park. The net is designed to allow water to pass through but will catch and collect all solid debris like plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers, snack wrappers, plastic bags, and other common litter. Most of this kind of litter is lightweight and floats easily when carried by rainwater. This rainwater starts its journey on streets, parking lots, and yards but eventually flows to the nearest storm drain. Many people believe that if it goes into the "sewer," it must go to the wastewater treatment plant where the litter is removed as part of the treatment process. The issue is that most storm water drains don't actually connect to the sanitary sewer system. In Hopewell, almost all storm drains flow directly into the nearest ditch, stream, or creek, which eventually dump into the Appomattox or James Rivers. Much of the litter you see on the side of the street, eventually ends up in our rivers, before flowing further into the Chesapeake Bay and then further to the Atlantic Ocean. The storm water trash net is a simple approach to keeping trash out of our local waterways. City Park is home to a storm water outfall pipe that is 36" in diameter and drains a large part of Hopewell's urban downtown area. This is prime territory for street litter due to the volume of people and types of businesses and residences. The outfall pipe dumps into an unnamed creek that flows directly into the Appomattox River, right beside the beach area at the park. Our park services team coordinated the fabrication of the net with Storm Water Systems, Inc. based in Texas. The net was then installed by Cooper and Claiborne Construction, a local company. The project was made possible by the $5,000 VOF grant aimed at improving the Appomattox River watershed. The net will be checked for litter daily as part of the park's routine maintenance schedule and will be emptied by park services staff as needed.
This collaborative effort and common sense approach is a simple way to keep our rivers healthy and clean.