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During wet weather events, the litter accumulated in communities, e.g., along the street gutter, can be transported by the surface runoff along the city streets and storm drainage system until it reaches outlets, which could be a river or the ocean in coastal communities. Despite this, most research on litter dynamics has occurred over the ocean domain, while very few studies have performed the analysis at a watershed scale or riverine systems. However, none of the previous efforts have focused on the inland litter hydrodynamics that could potentially reach the ocean or river system. Therefore, it is crucial to develop tools to quantify this litter supply rate toward the river or ocean.

The main goal of this project is to develop a tool capable of assessing inland litter hydrodynamics (ILH) during wet weather events. The ILH tool will encompass multiple computational numerical models, such as an open-source hydrologic and hydraulic model and a newly developed litter transport algorithm (LTA). The hydrologic model will translate precipitation into surface runoff, while the hydraulic model will route this runoff through the community. On the other hand, the developed LTA will describe the behavior of the litter when contacting the surface runoff, which will include determining if the litter will float and its transport velocity based on the surface runoff depth and velocity. Therefore, bridging the knowledge gap in litter hydrodynamics by determining the temporal and spatial variation of the litter around communities.

This project is sponsored by Prevented Ocean Plastic. Prevented Ocean Plastic is high quality, certified recycled plastic that has been collected from coastal areas at risk of ocean plastic pollution. Used by supermarkets and brands around the world, it meets regulatory health and safety standards, is traceable back to source and can be Identified on pack through its distinctive triangular blue logo.

Project Team

Dr. Felix Santiago-Collazo, Dr. Jenna Jambeck, Naz Oruc Baci