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'Litter Gitters' Being Deployed To Get Trash Out Of Mill Creek

Three "litter gitters" like this one will be installed along the Mill Creek.
Courtesy of Osprey Initiative
Three "litter gitters" like this one will be installed along the Mill Creek.

Despite vast improvements in water quality, the Mill Creek still gets a bad rap. A pilot program launching this week aims to remove additional trash from the waterway as one way to improve public perception.

"One of our main goals is to bring people back to the creek," says Dave Schmitt, executive director of the Mill Creek Alliance. "The water quality in Mill Creek has really improved tremendously and fish populations and macro-invertebrates and birds have really returned ... but there's an aesthetic issue there. People don't really want to canoe if they're surrounded by a bunch of floating trash."

The alliance is installing three "Litter Gitters" at spots along the Mill Creek. The devices look like long booms that block floating debris and direct it into a collection cage. Environmental Studies students from UC will be hired to clean out the traps weekly and after heavy rains.

Collected materials will be catalogued before being recycled or properly disposed of.

"We want to use the data to find where the materials are coming from and see if we can work with communities and residents and companies to try to stop the stuff from getting in the creek in the first place," says Schmitt.

The trash comes from various sources such as, for example, being thrown out of car windows or dropped on the street then washed into storm sewers. The alliance wants to know what kind of trash is making its way into the creek and from where it's coming.

"We want to design some long term solutions to the problem."

Coca-Cola Consolidated is funding the initial one-year pilot. Litter Gitters will be deployed at three locations along the creek:

  • On the West Fork Mill Creek just upstream of Winton Lake on the property of Winton Woods
  • On the main stem of Mill Creek at Evendale Commons in Evendale
  • At the mouth of the West Fork tributary where it meets Mill Creek in South Cumminsville

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.