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What are watergoats and why are the being installed in local lakes, streams and rivers?

Cary Lake, Lake Katherine and The Columbia Canal are now home to a WaterGoat trash trap.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia's Cary Lake is no stranger to mounds of trash piling up along its shores, but a team of dedicated individuals is determined to make a difference, not only here but across the state. 

PalmettoPride has begun installing the WATERGOAT trash collection systems in streams, canals, and other bodies of water across the state in an effort to prevent litter and plastic from entering the ocean.  

"We work with groups to just identify areas on waterways that have issues with litter, trying to find where that litter is coming from and see if the solutions is well equipped to do it," says the special project manager for Palmetto Pride, Joseph Berry. 

He says they are installing 13 "Watergoats" this week with a goal of 25 across the state in total, one at Cary Lake, a second at Lake Katherine, and a third at the Columbia Canal.

"The system consists of a set of buoys that are encased in netting and the netting also has a weight system to hold it down a little bit below the surface, and so the netting collects as much trash and litter as it possibly can get, and the good thing about this system is it actually rises and falls with the water," Berry adds. 

The aim of the project is to collect as much litter as possible and prevent it from flowing downstream.

"The classic picture of litter is an animal with litter around it, and that's almost always in a watershed, and so having another way to address that directly is another tool in the state's toolbox to address litter," he adds. 

Berry adds that while South Carolina has seen a decrease in litter per capita, it's important to keep finding innovative ways to address the issue.

"Tools like this like the WATERGOAT help us address that before it becomes a large issue it can get downstream and cause other issues like maintenance problems with equipment," Berry says. 

Thanks to this project, the hope is that fewer waterways in South Carolina will be affected by litter and pollution.

It's worth noting that each Watergoat trash trap has an organization responsible for regularly cleaning out the collected trash.

If you feel as if a Watergoat would be beneficial to your area you can reach out to jberry@palmettopride.org

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