St. Petersburg neighbors suggest watergoat to help keep trash from creek out of Old Tampa Bay

Pepper Mound Creek full of trash and debris

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- People living near Pepper Mound Creek in Hillsborough County are mad its waters are filled with piles of trash and debris that could potentially flow into Old Tampa Bay.

Neighbors in St. Petersburg have an idea how to keep that from happening.

IN DEPTH: Garbage littering Pepper Mound Creek

Lake Maggiore is a spot filled with wildlife. Rick Powell shows off a recently installed contraption to help keep the St. Pete lake clean.

"The water is deep enough for the alligators to swim underneath it," said Powell, a volunteer with Tampa Bay Watch. "It's a funny name. It's called a water goat."

A few dozen buoys hold up a net, collecting any trash and debris that makes its way into storm drains.

"There's a heavy chain that keeps it hanging straight down," Powell said.

The watergoat is a relatively cheap response to the huge problem of people littering or not picking up their trash. Powell says the barrier cost only about $3,000 and the man who makes them sells them to non-profit organizations.

"Anything that hits the streets is a litter," said Powell.

One of the biggest and most frustrating problems Powell sees is people tossing trash right next to a garbage can or dumpster because they are so full and cannot fit anymore.

Powell believe that is an indication trash cans are not being emptied often enough in some areas.

Dangerous toxins can seep into the environment once trash gets into our waterways.

"It's terrible, it's terrible for the fish, it's terrible for the wildlife and the people that are walking around it," said Merrick Mirabella, who spent the afternoon fishing at the lake.

Tampa Bay Watch says the watergoat on Lake Maggiore is the first one the group installed. Whenever it gets full they have to scoop it out so the trash can be properly disposed of.

The City of St. Petersburg is offering to help out the organization, but there is no guarantee all cities or counties will provide such aid.

Tampa Bay Watch says volunteers are needed to clean out the watergoat, especially after heavy rainfalls. For more information on how to volunteer, contact Rachel Arndt by calling (727)867-8166 ext. 233 or via email at rarndt@tampabaywatch.org.

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