Stream Trash Monitoring

Author: Andrew Edgcumbe, Carver County Water Management Organization

Abstract: Trash and plastic pollution are huge issues facing our earth and waters today. From large-scale garbage patches in the ocean to Styrofoam in small local streams, trash pollution has a lasting impact on aquatic ecosystems. Trash pollution found in aquatic ecosystems can:

  • leach chemicals into the water (NOAA).
  • alter habitats (NOAA).
  • harm or kill organisms that consume debris or become entangled in it (NOAA).
  • be aesthetically displeasing.

 The Carver County Water Management Organization wanted to determine the trash pollution impact of local streams to downstream waters. This was accomplished by using a trash seine at multiple suburban stream sites in the summer of 2020. The trash seine is constructed with multiple floats that rest on the water surface, with an 8-inch skirt that hangs in the water with a lead line along the bottom of the net. The trash seine was deployed at 3 stream sites for 2 weeks to a month and a half based on precipitation. Only 20 pieces of trash and plastic were collected using the trash seine at all sites in 2020. The small amount of trash pollution that was collected is encouraging, however, the lack of an intense storm event while the trash seine was deployed may be the reason for the small amount of trash collected. The Carver County Water Management Organization will deploy the trash seine again in 2021.