Keep plastic from entering rivers through urban runoff
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Microplastic is the problem I want to address, this is a problem which affects all of us across the United States. Microplastic consists of plastic less then 5mm in size. These pieces of plastic are constantly getting small in their breakdown process. Microplastic is such a problem because it impacts the food chain at every level, is currently impossible to extract from the ocean, and is increasing at a dramatic rate.
This plastic debris enters the ocean primarily through streams and rivers. Roughly 80% of all plastic entering the ocean does so through the river system that acts as a distribution network for any urban runoff or pollution that rivers collect.
One way to solve this problem in a very cost effective manner would be simple, cheap, and sustainable. Take chicken wire or stretched metal sheet and mount the mesh over city storm drains and other access points where debris from the urban landscape would make it's way into the drainage system. The cost of the installation and cost of materials would be cheaper than trying to adapt the current drain system with a filtration system. The benefit of having stretched metal sheet would be that workers could service and clean the debris that would otherwise go into the drainage system. In addition to keeping the rivers and ocean clear of urban runoff due to the cities drainage system, it reduces the cost to the city of dealing with drainage blocks as well as increasing the efficiency and speed of the drainage systems which in turn reduces the severity of flash flooding and leads to shorter recovery times from floods.
The city cleaning crew would not face any increased effort In completing their jobs. The screens on the storm drains would disallow any debris from entering and any litter would easily be street swept or picked up in normal operation.
Lastly the installation of these screens would both create jobs and allow a city to remain more beautiful and appear more eco friendly to tourists looking to.enjoy the natural and urban landscape. The plastic removed from the urban landscape could be recycled into consumer products or incorporated into City projects as cheap filler or any number of uses.
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