In June of 2021 Berkeley County installed its’ first WaterGoat device behind College Park Middle School. This unique device is designed to collect litter in the canal and help with stormwater management to remove trash and improve water quality issues in nearby neighborhoods.
Specifically, the WaterGoat will trap litter that washes in from area storm drains, capturing trash and other debris from streets, ditches, and streams. The WaterGoat was placed in the Limehouse Branch portion of the canal, located adjacent the bridge on Trinity Place, directly next to College Park Middle School drop-off loop. This convenient location provides an area for volunteers to park safely and access the WaterGoat for maintenance activities, future litter removal efforts, and student and public education.
This project is a coordinated effort between Berkeley County Stormwater, Berkeley Soil & Water Conservation District, Berkeley County Roads and Bridges, Keep Berkeley Beautiful, PalmettoPride, and Keep South Carolina Beautiful. Community groups and volunteers have been tasked with overseeing the routine maintenance and cleaning of the WaterGoat.
Since WaterGoat’s creation in 2006, nearly 200 devices have been installed in waterways around the country. For more information about how you may have one placed in your community, please visit WaterGoat.org.
To become part of the volunteer team & effort or to become a Project Sponsor Group, contact any of the following:
Current Project Sponsor Groups
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After the installation, students from College Park Middle school have taken ownership of managing the trash collected by the WaterGoat. The plan is that over the years different groups of students will pass through this program getting the opportunity to learn about the impact of trash on water quality and make a direct impact on the local watershed. Once the debris is held by the WaterGoat, these volunteers remove it from the water, document their findings, and dispose of it properly. The have done so consistently and enthusiastically, as seen in the story below:
Published on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022
BCSD photos / Monica Kreber
It is a job that this trio of seventh-graders at College Park Middle take very seriously, but they also have fun while doing it.
Wednesday morning was a little cold – and muddy in some parts – but Guilherme Santos, Kevin Gause and Jaidyn Redick were eager to board a golf cart driven by their seventh-grade science teacher Jered Crosby and venture out to the Limehouse Branch waterway behind their school.
Once they hopped off the golf cart, the three boys went right to work on emptying a device called a Water Goat from the canal.
A Water Goat is a floating surface net that collects trash as it drifts down a waterway. Berkeley County officials installed the device last summer with help from a grant. Berkeley County Stormwater Project Manager Thurman Simmons led the engineering project, which was done in partnership with Keep Berkeley County Beautiful.
The timing of the project was impeccable, because Crosby’s students had just done a quick-read of a book about making a difference, and he challenged them to come up with some ideas they could do to make an impact on their community. When Berkeley County reached out about installing the Water Goat, Crosby knew he had some students who would be up for the job.
“Mr. Crosby…came up to us three because we’re the type of people who like to do all this stuff,” Redick said, adding, “He asked if we would be into this kind of stuff, and we all said, ‘yeah.’ So he just…saw if we wanted to do it, and we did, and one day we just came out here and picked up the trash.”
These three students now lead what is called the Water Goat Passion Project. The idea is to treat the project as an after-school get-together that will meet up about once a week, and it is open to any other student who wants to participate in keeping the community clean.
“We’re trying to get more people involved with it to help us,” Redick said.
They have previously come out as a class to collect trash – “We got a lot of trash,” Gause recalled.
Crosby was named the school’s Teacher of the Year in the spring semester of 2020 and went on to be named a finalist for District Teacher of the Year later on. He is known for getting his students involved in projects that better their community; a year ago, he showed his students how to assemble “homeless car kits” to teach them a lesson on random acts of kindness.
Crosby called the Water Goat Passion Project the “poster child” of trying to get students motivated to collect trash around the school; after a month of his students being involved, he said they have noticed a lot less trash has gotten trapped in the Water Goat.
Crosby said his goal is to teach his students to be good people, and show them: “If they all work together, they can make a difference.”
“It’s been cool to see…because now other people are like, ‘I want to do a Passion Project,’” Crosby said.
The students assemble their collected trash into a bag and weigh it using a digital scale after each excursion. Over the past couple of months, they’ve collected more than 30 pounds of trash.
On Wednesday morning, they got just over 22 ounces. Crosby said they have been disappointed with collecting fewer amounts of trash, but also realized: this means they have been doing a good job and there is less litter.
“Our goal is we don’t want any trash in the net,” Crosby said.
The boys have recovered a lot of weird items from the waterway – a tire and a pumpkin particularly stood out to them.
The three of them said the hardest part of maintaining the Water Goat is simply pulling it out of the water, but they have a pretty good system set up to keep each other from falling into the water while they work; following a “one, two, three!” they work together to heave the goat out of the water and onto the ground. They will hold each other’s hands to help keep someone upright while using trash grabbers to retrieve any items from the water that the goat might have missed.
They also have a “prototype” of the Water Goat that they use to educate others on what the device does in the waterway. They made the prototype using a 3D printer at school, and used it to talk about the Water Goat at their school’s STEAM night event.
The students’ efforts were highlighted in a YouTube video Crosby previously posted. In the video, the students explain the purpose behind the Water Goat
“Our goal with this Water Goat is so we can show how easily trash gets here, and so people can pick up trash so it doesn’t get here,” Santos said in the video.
“Enthusiastic”, “chills”, “inspired”, “amazed” – these were just a few of the words Thurman Simmons uses to describe the feeling he got witnessing the students work hard Wednesday morning.
“What they are creating, regarding the ripple effect in their lives, as well as in their community, touches everyone around them in a way they haven’t come to realize yet,” Simmons said. “This is the ultimate goal as stewards of the environment: ensuring environmental protection and consciousness of natural resources for generations to come.”
College Park WaterGoat Data Log
Recording the data for how much and what type of trash is collected from the WaterGoat is an important piece of this project. It allows us to monitor changes over time and gives the volunteers concrete historical numbers regarding the impact they are having in site specifically and downstream. The South Carolina Aquarium has a great system set up for this type of data collection. It’s a part of their ‘Citizen Science’ Program, specifically under the “Litter-free Digital Journal” Project. Here is a link to this project site’s historical data: View Project | Anecdata
Watershed Impact Map
The map below shows the watershed of Limehouse branch, where the WaterGoat was installed. The map depicts the many stormwater channels, inlets into the stormwater system, stormwater conveyances, and what direction they flow. It should be noted, the watershed map shows how they all come together to feed the larger canal. As water travels through these channels, inlets, and conveyances during large rain events, debris is washed from the side of the road, back yards, driveways, trash bins, and eventually it ends up at the WaterGoat. At the WaterGOAT is where litter is stopped and removed by volunteers, keeping it from impacting the ecological systems downstream. Thus, you can see how big of an impact volunteers and students, are making on the water quality within our communities over the years and as time passes.
Nearly 380,000 acres of land within sub-watersheds, upstream of the WaterGoat, eventually drain to this one singular point where debris and litter is captured.
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Environmental Stewardship in Action
What does the WaterGoat do?
The WaterGoat is a device that lays across the top of the water colleting floating debris that would otherwise continue downstream. The trash is then collected and removed by hand.
Who maintains and removes the trash that is collected?
Berkeley County School District has partnered with Berkeley County to use this as an educational opportunity for classes. As they remove trash from the area, students collect data and make observations about water quality.
By reducing the amount of floating garbage in our waterways, the WaterGoat improves water quality as well as the long-term aesthetic. Over time, plastic breaks down into smaller pieces that can change the composition of the water and have detrimental effects on some of the smaller organisms that require good water quality to thrive.
How much trash does a WaterGoat Collect?
On average the WaterGoat collects over 100lbs of debris per month, but this depends on the location of the installation, and the deposited debris in the surrounding area. It is most effective during heavy rain events, as this is the time that debris gets carried from yards, and curbsides into streams.
Where can WaterGoats be installed?
Streams, Canals & Lakes. WATERGOAT has been preventing trash from entering big waters since 2006. Over 191 WaterGoats have been deployed in public waterways. A small percentage of our devices are installed on private/commercial properties. Best collected data (conservative) indicates that the mighty WaterGoat fleet has prevented well over 322 tons of debris from ever getting close to the ocean! That name? Goats are known to eat almost anything and everything, most of all, … trashy trash.
How is WaterGoat installed?
WATERGOAT installation can generally be accomplished in less than three hours using three different types of ‘Earth Anchors’. With most installs, one side of the WATERGOAT attachment is designed to break loose during a catastrophic rain event to ensure retention of the community asset and prevent waterway hazards.
If needed, in almost all cases, are covered by the local Public Works or Storm Water Department. (Specs and Engineering available by request). WaterGoats are designed to allow optimum flow at all times. WaterGoats only displace 1/4″ of water, allowing optimal storm water flow – never backing up the SW grid regardless of the captured debris amount. The WATERGOAT is engineered to raise and lower with rapidly fluctuating water levels.
What type of trash is collected?
Collections will consist of everything imaginable, both good and bad. Over the seasons we have captured objects that should never have gotten close to the waterways and for that reason we strongly encourage adult supervision if young folks will be participating in a scheduled cleanup. The trashy WATERGOAT data remains consistent regardless of the location, count on at least 60 to 70% of the contents consisting of plastic bottles, a strong 20% being styrene or foam products and the rest are what we call, “’it’s a mystery’”. Single-Use containers and packaging will always provide the most data.
How is the WaterGoat Maintained?
Maintenance is usually performed from the safety of embankments or ‘Stormwater Headwalls’. The WaterGoats are easily pulled to the stream sides with minimal effort. The average WaterGoat can be cleaned out in less than two hours with three Volunteers. Scoop Nets or Hooking Nets are used to easily remove debris.