Watergoats remove trash from the Lake Arlington-Village Creek watershed

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Yellow foam buoys with netting now decorate areas in the Lake Arlington-Village Creek watershed. The device, called a watergoat, traps trash that flows into waterways to help keep them clean and healthy.

“Watergoats are proven, sustainable, and low-cost floating devices that effectively contain and collect debris in one area preventing it from continuing downstream,” said Heather Firn, a watershed scientist in the Trinity River Authority’s Technical Services and Basin Planning division.

The watergoats initiative is a part of the Village Creek-Lake Arlington (VCLA) Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). The plan was developed by the Trinity River Authority and the city of Arlington to help restore water quality in Lake Arlington and Village Creek; the initiative was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2019. 

During the planning period, TRA investigated established programs to emulate. One was the Presbyterian Night Shelter’s UpSpire Waterways program, a partnership with the city of Fort Worth, which began in 2017. UpSpire employs people experiencing homelessness and gives them opportunities to turn their life around. Since the start of the program, they have removed thousands of pounds of trash from the city’s parks and waterways.

“Seeing their success led TSBP to propose a partnership with UpSpire to further develop the program for watershed-scale application within the VCLA and surrounding watersheds,” said Firn. 

Fast forward to 2022, a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has made it possible for TSBP and UpSpire to install 10 watergoats in watersheds leading to Lake Arlington, Sycamore Creek, and the West Fork of the Trinity River. 

“The UpSpire Waterways crew services each location every two weeks or within three days of a rain event,” noted Firn. “TSBP conducts a litter sources assessment survey once a month.”

TSBP and UpSpire collaborate with the University of Texas at Arlington, Tarrant Regional Water District, and the Dorris Family Foundation on this project. As of July, almost 6,000 pounds of trash have been collected.

Information on the project can be found HERE.

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