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Mobile Takes Aggressive Steps to Stop Mardi Gras Trash from Getting in Storm Drains

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) What's a Mardi Gras parade without throws? But far too often the coveted goods are thrown on the ground instead.

"The best time, the best party, the most junk on the street," said Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director Casi Callaway.

Which means much of it also goes into storm drains.

"Everything that goes down a storm water drain goes into a body of water, everything," said Callaway.

"The ideal solution is to prevent that stuff from getting down in there," said City of Mobile Public Works Executive Director Bill Harkins.

Now, for the first time, the city is making attempts to stop Mardi Gras trash from ever getting into the storm drains. Harkins said city workers designed and installed 64 metal grates on top of the drains along parade route A this year.

"They're actually custom made for each storm drain," said Harkins.

Already, Harkins said, the city thinks they're making an impact and are eyeing expansion of the program.

"After we get through this Mardi Gras season and we see that it's as good as we think it will be, after our first parade we got some evidence that it is, we're going to try to do it around the Bayfest area," said Harkins.

Callaway said her group is pleased with any effort to stop our local waterways from looking like trash dumps.

"We are thrilled the city is doing something to keep debris, Mardi Gras trash out of our rivers and streams," said Callaway.

So why not just put the grates on all storm drains? The city says it has more than 30,000 storm drains, and there are some concerns that things like leaves could cause clogging and possibly street flooding. So that's why they're taking it slow to see how these do.

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