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1-year-old litter trap on Flat Creek doing better than expected
The trash trap installed in Flat Creek is allowing workers to remove debris from the creek before it reaches Lake Lanier. It's been one-year since the device was installed on Flat Creek.

When Gainesville and Hall County teamed up to install the Bandalong Litter Trap on Flat Creek in December 2015, officials weren’t really sure how well it would work.

With its long arms stretching in opposite directions and sturdy green basket attached in the back, the 600-pound device looked like something out of science fiction.

Not only has the device produced a steady flow of trash and recyclables, but officials are now looking at installing another such device — as part of efforts to curb the amount of pollution that ends up in Lake Lanier.

Officials haven’t tabulated exactly how much debris has been pulled from the Flat Creek trap, which is just south of the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility on Old Flowery Branch Road.

But efforts to keep the device functioning have been “manpower-intensive,” Gainesville Environmental Services Administrator Horace Gee said Tuesday.

“And that is a good thing. We’ve caught more trash than we thought it might. … It just sort of sits there and does its thing.”

Installed in a waterway, its job is simple: Catch garbage before it heads farther downstream.

The idea behind the joint initiative was to reduce pollution on the long-troubled Flat Creek, a largely urban waterway that flows into Lake Lanier.

“During any kind of rain events, we have a good bit of trash we have to get out of it,” Gee said.

Officials check the trap every day, “but if there’s not much debris and no forecast of heavy rains, we let it meander along,” Gee said.

“During major rains, we may have to (clean) it out a couple days back to back,” he said.

Overall, “it has really cut down on our calls and our issues with the residents in the (Flat Creek) cove near Lake Lanier,” Gee said.

“This has been a very good, fantastic partnership, I would think,” said Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works and public utilities director. “It’s just working out great.”

As for a second possible litter trap, officials are eyeing Balus Creek, which runs parallel to Mundy Mill Road, as “it is our other major creek we have issues with that spills directly into Lake Lanier,” Gee said.

“There’s nothing definitive … at this time,” Gee said.

Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, had been a longtime proponent of the project and was glad to finally see the device installed.

“We are very happy with the trash trap in Flat Creek,” she said Tuesday. “We have noticed all year that trash has been reduced to the west of the trap, meaning that the trap is doing its job.”