Implementing Trash Traps to Remove Litter in the Anacostia River Watershed in Maryland

Infographic saying: Let’s make a Litter-Free Prince George’s County.
Infographic advertising a litter-free Prince George County. (Credit: Prince George’s County)

Prince George’s County is teaming up with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to design and install two trash traps along Maryland’s Anacostia River watershed, monitor the traps’ success, and increase community awareness of the marine debris issue through local outreach.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Project Dates: October 2017 - September 2020

Who is involved?
Prince George’s County (PGC) of Maryland, supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, is partnering with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Low Impact Development Center to install trash traps, conduct public outreach, and monitor marine debris in the Anacostia River, a tributary of the Potomac River that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

What is the project and why is it important?
The Anacostia River receives hundreds of tons of trash each year, which then flows into the Potomac River and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay. Efforts have been under way since 2000 to improve the health of the Potomac River Watershed, including the Anacostia River. These efforts have worked to encourage the prevention of debris through individual stewardship within areas of the watershed.

Through this project, PGC is continuing to address the health of the Potomac River Watershed by installing two floating litter traps in the tidal portion of the Anacostia River in order to reduce the debris loads flowing downstream. The traps are strategically placed in urban areas where the debris levels upriver have been previously monitored. By removing the debris before it travels farther downriver, the traps are improving habitat function and quality in the river and reducing a significant source of pollution in the area. PGC is monitoring the traps to assess the effectiveness of this removal approach, and is increasing public awareness of the issue through local outreach and education programs.