March 16, 2016

A Quarterly Publication of Rivers Alive

You're Invited: Rivers Alive Awards Luncheon!
Please join us as we celebrate our collective accomplishments in 2015 at our annual awards ceremony and luncheon! The ceremony will begin with a brief welcome and review of the 2015 cleanup successes, and will include a fun silent auction, opportunities to network and delicious food.

This year's Award Ceremony and Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, April 20th from 11:00AM to 1:00PM at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center (980 Briarcliff Road, NE Atlanta, Georgia 30306).

Remember, award winners are selected based on the final tally submitted at It's not too late to be considered for an award! Log on to your registration page today to update or edit your cleanup data, list any interesting or unusual items found at your cleanup and upload pictures of your cleanup. Contact our office if you have any questions.

Space is limited to 100, so be sure to RSVP soon at or 404-651-8517.

Donate A Silent Auction Item
If you would like to donate any items to the silent auction, please fill out the Rivers Alive Silent Auction Donation Form with a description of the items. Examples of donated items include: Braves tickets, outdoor equipment, photographs, coffee mugs, kayak or a weekend getaway/rental.

Note that all proceeds generated from the silent auction go towards covering costs of the awards and luncheon as well as Rivers Alive cleanups. Thank you for supporting the auction!

No Water, No Beer Festival in support of Water Appreciation Day! 

Clean water is one of our planet’s most valuable resources. It is critical to everything that we do. The food we eat, the electricity that powers our homes, and the cities and towns in which we live are all highly dependent upon having reliable sources of clean water. Even the beer that we drink is 90% water. Sadly, more than 780 million people in this world do not have access to clean water. To help show the importance of water and the fact that with No Water there is No Beer, join us for a celebration of the importance of clean water. The proceeds from this event will help to provide clean water to people in developing countries as well as help efforts to keep our water supply clean right here in Georgia.

Saturday, April 30th from 6:30-9:30PM at SweetWater Brewing Company 
195 Ottley Drive, Atlanta, GA 30324 

REGISTER HERE Space is Limited
$25 Registration includes great beer, food, and music!

All proceeds from the event will benefit Water For People and Rivers Alive.

Sponsor Highlight: Storm Water Systems

Gary Hopkins and his business partner, Mark Kirves have worked together for over 30 years to find solutions for surface and groundwater pollution. In 2006 they licensed the Bandalong Litter Trap and have installed it in river systems across the nation. Their business, Storm Water Systems, is a sponsor of Rivers Alive. RA Board member, Gina Rogers, recently spent time talking with Gary about his passion for cleaning up the world’s rivers and the most recent Bandalong Litter Trap installation in Georgia on Flat Creek in Hall county. The Bandalong Litter Trap won Hall County’s Green Alliance project of the year (land and water) for 2015!

Gina: Gary, what inspired you and Mark to bring the Bandalong Litter Trap to Georgia?  

Gary: We were sickened from all the trash we saw filling up our waterways and lakes here in Georgia, and at the same time filling up our oceans worldwide.  We found the Bandalong Litter Trap while trying to find a solution to a creek in Atlanta (Tanyard Creek) and started a dialogue with the Australians who had developed the Bandalong.  Our parent company (Plastek Werks) welds and fabricates plastic and we thought: “Why not use our manufacturing and construction background to make a difference, one stream or river at a time.”  One thing that is unique about our company is the passion we all have about what we are doing, because we are advocates as well.

Gina: How long did it take after you licensed the Bandalong Litter Trap before you really started to see a demand for the product?

Gary: Six years.  It has not happened overnight; however, we spent those six years developing successful case histories and learning a great deal.  Our first Bandalong was in Washington, DC (where we are getting ready to install our fourth Bandalong) and we installed our first one in California this spring.   There is a great deal more awareness of the problems trash causes once it enters the water than when we started, which helps.  Also, the economy is much better.

Gina: How many rivers now have a Bandalong Litter Trap? How many of them are Georgia rivers?

Gary: Between Storm Water Systems and Bandalong International, we have over 250 installed worldwide; with three in Georgia: Waycross (Satilla River); Griffin (unknown creek); Gainesville (Flat Creek).  

Gina: How does the Bandalong Litter Trap actually work?  Is there an ideal width, depth or velocity of a river for the trap to be most effective?

Gary: The Bandalong is anchored in place, with the extended collection booms opened at an angle that allows the natural current of the waterway to guide trash into the booms and then the trap body.  We have done streams as narrow as 30’, but we can work with narrower channels.  In Australia, many of the Bandalong Litter Traps are in perennial streams and rivers, where they sit on dry ground until a rain event. When about 6”- 8” of depth occur, the Bandalong becomes buoyant and goes into action.  There is no limit to the depth.  Velocity is important as it performs best in velocities up to 8 feet/second. The Litter Trap can be cleaned out manually, with a vacuum hose, or if it has a litter basket it can be emptied by a crane, back hoe or other lifting device.

Gina: Tell us about the Flat Creek litter problem and how Hall County and the city of Gainesville came together to find a solution.

Gary: The story about Flat Creek has gone on for years, and trash is just one of the challenges that Flat Creek faces.  About three years ago, we did a presentation to a joint meeting with the City of Gainesville and Hall County engineers.  They knew they had a problem, but things really got started when Lake Lanier Association got involved, as Flat Creek flows into Lake Lanier and produces islands of floating trash during rain events.  I was told by government officials that a phone/email campaign to elected officials was the tipping point that got the ball rolling.  We furnished project references to their engineers to talk to other Bandalong owners to insure a confidence level going forward.  They visited our manufacturing facility in Cleveland, GA to see Bandalong Litter Traps in progress.

Gina: I imagine that many of our river cleanup groups across the state are going to be interested in learning more about the Bandalong Litter Trap after reading this article!  What is the best way for them to find out more about Bandalong Litter Traps and who should they contact at Storm Water Systems?

Gary: Anyone wishing to learn more about the Bandalong Litter Trap can visit our website: or contact me directly:

Interview with Horace Gee about the Bandalong Litter Trap in Gainesville, GA 

Horace Gee is the Environmental Compliance Manager for the City of Gainesville, managing their Watershed, Stormwater and Environmental education/outreach programs. He has worked for the City for 27+ years.
1. We understand that there has been an ongoing litter problem on Flat Creek for many years. Why did Gainesville and Hall County decide now to install a Bandalong Litter Trap?
Flat Creek runs from downtown Gainesville and stretches all the way through the County where it discharges into Lake Lanier.  Flat Creek has been listed on the States 303d list for a number of years for not meeting its designated use for violations of Fecal Coliform.  We have had a long history of litter collecting in the cove where the stream discharges into Lake Lanier (see photo of after a rain event).  We have routinely focused stream cleanups within this watershed.  We decided to install the Bandalong to concentrate our efforts to a site below the most urbanized stretch of the stream, which we could conveniently have access to clean it out.

2. How long did it take to get your trap and have it installed once you placed the order?
Once Gainesville and Hall County executed our IGA (Intergovernmental Agreement) and processed our requisition request we received our trash trap within approximately 3 weeks.  It took us longer to complete all our necessary steps than Storm Water Solutions to deliver our device. 

3. Has it been effective?  How often does it have to be emptied?
I feel the device has been highly successful, to the point that the home owners where Flat Creek discharges into Lake Lanier had scheduled a cleanup of the cove in January and they cancelled the cleanup due to the minimal trash deposited in recent weeks.  We have had several periods of heavy rain since the installation of our trash trap and a couple weeks we had to clean the basket daily.  However during weeks where we’ve not had copious amounts of rain we’ve gone 2 or 3 weeks without having to clean it out.

4. Would you say that the citizens overall are pleased with the results?
Before the installation of the trash trap every time it rained an inch or so the email’s of the elected officials of Gainesville and Hall County as well as mine would be blown-up with photos requesting us to do something about the trash.

5. Do you have any advice for other communities with similar floating litter problems?
Well if the device continues to work as it has for a couple months, and I see no reason it shouldn’t, I think it’s worth every dollar invested and the maintenance required to maintain it.  I wish we could’ve installed one sooner.

A Big Thanks to All of our 2015 Sponsors for Your Support of our Waterway Cleanup Program!

The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources. This would not be possible without the generous financial support of the corporate sponsors below. 

Major Corporate Sponsors

Georgia Power |  The Coca-Cola Company  |  Oglethorpe Power  

Perdue Farms |  Golder Associates | Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Southwire CompanyEPS  |  Enterprise Holdings Foundation  |  Jones Day

 Storm Water Systems  | Alston+Bird  | NewFields | Dalton Utilities 

Black & Veatch | Sutherland | GE Power & Water | Shaw Industries

Additional Support From:

MEAG Power | Burns & McDonnell Foundation

Premier Industrial Services | Trinity Consultants

If you would like to sponsor Rivers Alive in 2016, please find more information on our Sponsorship pageRivers Alive uses 100% of donations to support cleanup organizers and recognize volunteers for their hard work removing trash from miles of waterways across Georgia.

Rivers Alive is a program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Outreach Program.        404-463-1511

The preparation of this newsletter was financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1987, as amended.