In September 2020, Waterschap Limburg installed litter traps and a trash fence at hotspots in the Geul and the Roer. The purpose of these fences is to make the streams and rivers cleaner, but these litter traps are also very valuable in another area: they provide a wealth of information.
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Litter traps in Roer en Geul with a mission
Like other LIVES partners, Waterschap Limburg has been actively involved for years to clean and keep our rivers clean. Placing litter traps and water traps are measures that can help with this. But in fact, the problem must be tackled at the source. It is therefore not surprising that a research goal was also included when placing the litter traps.
The research focuses on gathering knowledge, recognizing seasonal influences and mapping source areas. Possible source areas can be identified by analyzing the litter. Identifying and approaching the source areas is essential to reduce the amount of litter in the rivers. A distinction is made here in seasons, because – as it turns out – each season brings its own litter with it.
Litter trap in Roer.
Litter trap in Valkenburg aan de Geul.
Notorious collection points of dirt
The locations of the litter traps do not appear out of the blue. They have been a collection point for litter for years and have been designated as so-called hotspots. The litter trap in the Roer have been placed at two locations at the ECI Cultuurfabriek/Waterkrachtcentrale in Roermond (see photo 1). The litter trap in Valkenburg (a floating beam just upstream of Valkenburg) is located just outside the center of Valkenburg in the Kleine Geul (see photo 2). These locations were also chosen because of the good accessibility. After all, they also need to be emptied regularly.
Working together on a source approach
The locations were not chosen randomly. These are locations that offer the opportunity to work closely with partners in the region. At the Roer there is cooperation with the ECI Waterkrachtcentrale and at the Geul with various millers. In this way, together with contractors, millers and dozens of volunteers, Waterschap Limburg is trying to map and analyze the litter that collects in the streams near the waste collectors and to see at which locations upstream measures may need to be taken or – in the context of source approach – dialogue must be held with citizens, companies or authorities.
Accurate registration according to Ospar method
In these rivers, the litter is analyzed monthly using a peat list. The peat lists are based on the river Ospar method. The River OSPAR method uses a detailed item list for data collection, with over 100 specific items and 10 main categories. The data collection according to this method provides detailed information about the type and composition of the waste lying on the banks. For each location it is indicated which items have been found. Striking matters such as a large amount of the same type of waste are noted separately. All this results in an accurate registration that provides a wealth of value for further analysis. Waterschap Limburg hopes to be able to publish the first results in the foreseeable future.
What information is collected?
- Found items by location.
- All locations combined with an overview of the number of items found.
- Top 10 most found items by location.
- Top 10 most found items from all locations together.
- Visual support through photos of the most frequently found items.
- Results per month of each location, shown by means of a photo.
- Classification of the locations on the basis of most polluted to least polluted.
These litter traps are emptied every month and sometimes every two weeks, but analyzed once a week using the OSPAR method. The River-OSPAR protocol is the most detailed protocol for characterizing the type and composition of riverbank litter. The River OSPAR method uses a detailed item list for data collection, with over 100 specific items and 10 main categories. The data collection according to this method provides detailed information about the type and composition of the waste lying on the banks. (Source: Waterschap Limburg)