First of seven U.S. EPA-funded trash traps are installed north of Ottawa River

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Jun. 22—Toledo has installed the first of seven federally funded traps designed to capture floating trash before it reaches western Lake Erie.

A media event was held Tuesday morning from the eastern edge of the Menards parking lot at 1415 E. Alexis Rd. to show the device as it was being installed in Shantee Creek.

According to state and federal environmental documents, Shantee Creek, which flows north of the Ottawa River, is a highly urbanized creek with degraded habitat and a history of pollution.

The creek eventually connects and goes through a portion of southeast Michigan before emptying into western Lake Erie's North Maumee Bay.

"Every year, roughly 2,500 tons of garbage travel through our waterways and out into Lake Erie," Ed Moore, Toledo public utilities director, said. "Thanks to a new partnership and federal funding, that number will soon be reduced. Too much of the trash is getting into the water and then carried out to the lake, and this project will help stop that."

The city's intent to install such devices, known as trash capture devices, was announced 11 months ago when former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler made a stop in South Toledo as part of a new initiative created by the former Trump administration.

Mr. Wheeler's July 2020 visit at Walbridge Park was attended by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and several members of his and Gov. Mike DeWine's administrations, including Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz.

During it, the federal agency announced a $9.7 million grant to help dredge and clean up highly industrialized Otter Creek, which flows through East Toledo and Oregon and out into Maumee Bay.

Another $4.7 million came from industrial partners for that cleanup, Mr. Wheeler said back then.

The trash capture devices won't be nearly as expensive.

They are being funded by a $415,000 federal grant.

Near the end of Mr. Wheeler's visit, Mayor Kapszukiewicz said that sum was "nothing to sneeze at," but also pointed out the devices won't remove farm nutrients that are largely to blame for Lake Erie and Maumee River algal blooms.

"Look, it'll be a good thing if there's less plastic and bottles and such in Lake Erie," the mayor said last July. "But the water turns green because of agricultural runoff."

He reiterated his call back then for better environmental laws and stronger enforcement of them at both the state and federal levels to help slow down the modern era of algal blooms that began in Lake Erie in 1995.

Similar grants for trash-collection devices were announced for other cities bordering the Great Lakes, including Cleveland and Milwaukee.

The city described the new devices as mechanical systems which funnel floating debris into them. Last July, officials said there also would likely be simple nets set up to catch trash coming out of outfalls.

Toledo said it is working with Partners for Clean Streams, the University of Toledo, Keep Toledo-Lucas County Beautiful, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, and Toledo Public Schools on the trash-collection project for the next two years.

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