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Stormwater baskets keep trash from entering Tampa Bay

Every time it rains, the rainwater flows swiftly into the storm drains that line the streets across the Tampa Bay area. The ugly reality is that trash, yard debris and oil get caught in that rainwater and eventually make their way into the waters of Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Shores neighborhood in Hillsborough County found a way to curb that flow right at the curb by installing stormwater catch baskets.

“You just see people throw trash out all the time, and we can stop it here,” said Brad Ware, a Tampa Shores resident. Ware spearheaded the initiative to get stormwater catch baskets for his neighborhood’s storm drains.

The custom-made baskets fit just inside a storm drain, and they catch the trash and debris while letting the water run through them. A special liner around the rim of these baskets is designed to absorb any oil in the water.

“This is the only way that I know of that you can keep this refuse from going into the bay,” said Ware.

The baskets cost about $1,000 and the Tampa Shores neighborhood received a $5,000 grant from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program to buy more of them.

“We have 11 now, and we’re probably going to put another eight or nine in,” said Ware. “We should get close to 20.”

Susan Aungst is also a Tampa Shores resident and is proud of the contribution they are making for the health of the bay. “It was declared a dead bay in the 70s. Small pockets of people just started working on their part, Tampa Bay Watch, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, and communities like ours,” she said.

The community even received the Golden Mangrove Award from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program because of the positive impact they are making.