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Trash cleanup at Long Creek has an added purpose

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As 40 bags of materials are removed, a water treatment company watches for ideas on ways to screen out stormwater pollutants.

SOUTH PORTLAND — Volunteers spent part of Thursday pulling 40 large bags of litter and trash out of a tributary of Long Creek, a stream that flows near heavily built-up areas near the Maine Mall.

Springtime river cleanups are common, but this trash may be used to help design new ways to keep waste from getting into Long Creek, as well as other threatened watersheds in Maine and around the world. A private environmental firm is using Long Creek to study ways of keeping litter out of waterways.

“Trash in water is an enormous problem, it is only growing and we are seeing a lot of demand for screening technology, especially in our Asian market,” said Bridget Domareki, spokeswoman for Hydro International, a United Kingdom-based company with an office in Portland specializing in stormwater treatment systems. Pollutants can affect drinking water, kill wildlife and damage sensitive ecosystems.

Hydro plans to study the trash collected Thursday in South Portland to help understand what materials are getting into the stream and whether new filter designs could screen some of it out. “It is a local study, but it has applications globally,” Domareki said.

More than 30 volunteers from Hydro International and Fairchild Semiconductor, which has a manufacturing plant in the area, pulled Styrofoam cups, plastic bags, food wrappers and other debris from three parts of the South Branch of Long Creek, a tributary that flows near the Maine Mall commercial area. ... [Read the full story from Portland Press Herald]