JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Keeping waterways clear: that’s the goal of the ‘Trash Trout’ in Jacksonville.

The city partnered up with Coastal Carolina Riverwatch to install a device in one Jacksonville creek that could one day branch out to help water preservation nationally. What may seem like one small creek in Jacksonville is actually part of a much bigger picture.

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

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

Officials said 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, down to Wrightsville,” Donovan-Brandenburg said. 

Again, that’s because it’s all connected.  

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

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

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,” Donovan-Brandenburg said. 

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,” Donovan-Brandenburg said. 

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.