Anti-trash campaign targets Potomac watershed

Thursday, September 30, 2010

High-ranking members of federal, state and local jurisdictions talked trash last week at the Potomac Watershed Trash Summit.

The goal of the session, led by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, is for the Potomac River watershed to be trash free by 2013.

Two major steps in making that happen were announced Wednesday. One is a federally approved plan that requires Maryland and the District to remove 600 tons of trash from the Anacostia River, which is part of the watershed. The other is a marketing campaign aimed at getting "trashers" to get change their behavior.

Throughout the watershed, about 33 percent of the trash is from food. Cigarette butts make up 12 percent; food and candy wrappers, 7 percent; and bottles and cans, 6 percent.

The marketing campaign, "Clean Land, Safe Water, Healthy Lives," aims to educate litterers on how tossing trash on the ground can affect their families, their health and the environment.

"If we don't want to spend the money to pick it up, we need to be more careful" about trash, said Bob Hoyt, director of Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection. "When they are throwing things on the ground, it doesn't go away."

That trash flows through storm-water drains, into tributaries and rivers, into the Chesapeake Bay and, finally, into the Atlantic Ocean, damaging water quality and aquatic life all along the way, said Christophe Tulou, acting director of the D.C. Department of the Environment.

"Trash is a global threat," he said.

-- Christy Goodman

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