CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — A local partnership is finding solutions to plastic pollution right below the ground.

Below two grates, in front of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is one-of-a-kind technology, fit exclusively to prevent plastic pollution from getting into the St. Lawrence River. These custom-fit nets, called “Litta Traps,” essentially trap litter by acting as a barrier in storm drains in shoreline communities.

This pilot program was first brought up by local grassroots organization Save the River, which has been rallying against plastic pollution for decades, and more recently calling the community to action with its Trash Free River Cleanups.

Save the River Executive Director John Peach recollected a recent experience of finding a dead fish with plastic pieces in its gills.

“So this plastic and this material, if it isn’t stopped before it gets into the river is a pretty toxic problem,” Peach said. “It ends up in the gills of fish, gullets of birds and even in humans.”

Save the River recently had two donors step up and pay for these “Litta Traps.” Once they had the funding, the organization started searching for the perfect location to pilot this program in downtown Clayton. With the help of Village Mayor Norma Zimmer and Antique Boat Museum Director Rebecca Hopfinger.

These traps were all made to fit specifically in the chosen storm drains. The netting is designed to stop most particles and items from flowing through, and there is also an overflow element, which will avoid any clogging in rainy autumn or spring months. Peach shared that the goal for this program at this site is to first, educate the community, but also track pollutants stopped from entering the river.

“It’s an ideal site because this is a pilot program. And so it’s going to have high visibility. We’ll have signage attached to the Antique Boat Museum,” Peach stated. “All the people coming through here, will learn about them.”

The group also shared a sense of pride, as the effort will hope bring awareness towards the cause in the Clayton community.

“There’s a since of pride, because when your community is participating in this and keeping that, that waste out of our water, we’re catching it in our storm systems before it can go out into the waterway,” Save the River Program Coordinator Lauren Eggleston expressed.

AMB Director Rebecca Hopfinger added, “as the Antique Boat Museum, our mission is to celebrate recreational boating, and we want to recreate and bow on fresh and clean waters. So to support that is absolutely right and included in our mission.”

This program is new, as it began only began mid-July. But Save the River and the Village of Clayton is already looking to expand to additional sites and communities in the near future. This may include traps directly over the river, in Alexandria Bay and additional St. Lawrence River shoreline communities.