JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Keeping our waterways clear, that’s the goal of the ‘trash trout’ in Jacksonville.  

The city partnered up with Coastal Carolina Riverwatch. They installed the device in one Jacksonville creek.  And what may seem like one small creek in Jacksonville is actually part of a much bigger picture.

Officials said our waterways are all interconnected, so keeping litter out of the creek ultimately helps to keep it out of the ocean and off our beaches.  

“We’re losing the war against litter,” said Stormwater and Soil and Erosion Control Manager for the City of Jacksonville, Pat Donovan-Brandenburg. 

Officials say littering has unintended consequences.  

“Any trash that does make it out to the ocean could actually come back on our very beaches, you know, North Topsail, South Topsail, Surf City, you know, down to Wrightsville,” said Donovan-Brandenburg. 

That’s because it’s all connected.  

“All of that water comes here, it passes under [Hwy] 24. And then it enters the base where it flows and meets with Northeast Creek, Northeast Creek flows directly into the New River, then New River enters the Atlantic Ocean in Sneads Ferry,” said Donovan-Brandenburg. 

By installing the ‘trash trout’ they’re aiming to catch that litter before it makes its way downstream.  

“Some thought process was if we stop it from ever getting there, then we’ve done half of our job,” said Donovan-Brandenburg. 

They also plan on cataloging every piece of litter from the ‘trash trout’ and collecting water samples, as well as looking into the microplastic problem.  

“Where and how are those chemicals affecting those fish? More importantly, how does that affect the man? Short term long term,” said Donovan-Brandenburg. 

As of Tuesday, the ‘trash trout’ is empty because of the drought. But Donovan-Brandenburg said as soon as rain comes, they’ll be able to gauge just how much litter flowed through Scales Creek and into the device. 

“If you go fishing or if you go to the beach or if you utilize our beaches any at all. Remember that it’s still connected. It’s still connected to this very small stream right here in the middle of Jacksonville,” said Donovan-Brandenburg. 

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch volunteers will clear out the ‘trash trout’ about once every two weeks. They plan on keeping it at Scales Creek for about a year. After that, they plan to move it to a different location.