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South Portland creek cleanup serves dual purpose

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SOUTH PORTLAND — More than 300 pounds of trash was collected along a city creek not only to clean up the waterway, but to help improve the technology used to screen trash. During the event Friday, May 12, garbage was bagged from the banks of urban-impaired Long Creek, near the Maine Mall.

Hydro International conducted the clean-up with help from the city, the Long Creek Watershed Management District and students from the University of Southern Maine’s Environmental Science and policy program.

Hydro International will use the data to improve and refine trash screening stormwater devices they design, which can be used to improve water quality by filtering out debris and preventing it from entering bodies of water.

Studying what kind of trash gets into the water will enable the company to better design the devices. The study is in its second year, according to the Hydro International, a Portland water management consulting company.

A year ago, the same study netted 583 pounds of trash, or 54 bags. Findings from last year’s study found the largest percentage of trash – 39 percent – was from some form of food or beverage container.

“Non-biodegradable trash is an eyesore on land, but one way or another, much of it will end up where it will arguably do the most damage to the environment – in water,” according to the company.

“Aquatic life found in the lakes, rivers and oceans where most unscreened trash will eventually find its way, is vulnerable to these floating pollutants that can deceptively look like food. Once consumed, birds, fish and other wildlife are either poisoned or unable to effectively digest the material and in most cases pass away.” ... [Read the full story in The Forecaster]