RECLAIMING ESLAVA CREEK: End of a Journey, Beginning of a Movement

Day Five

Eslava Creek, a once natural and flourishing body of water, is now being choked by all the trash washed into it.

Trash is such a problem for Eslava Creek, the city installed a nearly half-million dollar litter trap to help fix t.

“It’s now picked up more than 457 cubic yards of litter, so that’s now 457 yards of litter that’s no longer in our waterways, which is a huge improvement. And, every time there is a significant storm, our public works crews come in and immediately clean out all that litter that’s there,” City Spokesperson Laura Byrne explained.

Numbers are impressive, but the real test will come from what we see paddling downstream of the trap.

“I don’t see much trash at all,” News 5 Assignment Editor Brad Gunther said as we paddle underneath the McVay Avenue bridge towards I-1O.

Jim Johnson flies our drone overhead, and for the first time during our trip, we finally see houses near the water with docks, as Eslava Creek turns into Dog River.

“Hey look, a frisbee!” Brad says as he pulls a yellow frisbee out of the water. ” Need a Mardi Gras throw?”

We haven’t seen much trash at all after passing the litter trap, but then again there hasn’t been a heavy rain storm recently.

That’s why we wanted to stop and talk to the Rayner family, who lives on Dog River.

“We noticed the litter trap seems to be working,” I say as we pull up to their dock. ” What have you noticed, living near it?”

” Day to day, it helps,” Travis Rayner said. “There’s actually less litter than there used to be because it does catch a lot of it, but when you need it the most. It fills up and then it overflows.”

Rayner said the trap fills up quickly and overflows during heavy rain storms. The city spokesperson said they have crews come out immediately after rainstorms to empty it, but Rayner wishes they send someone during the storm to monitor the amount of trash going into the trap because afterward, it’s often too late.

On top of that, Bolton Branch, another feed creek that runs by the new McGowin Park Shopping Center, also empties into Dog River below the litter trap.

“The river is filling up,” Rayner said. “If you paddled out there about 15 feet, it looks deep…. water’s about ‘this’ deep and if you got down in it and started scooping, you’d get gooey mud from the silt, but as you look at it, it’s full of grass, pine straw, and leaves. That’s all the stuff that gets washed down the river when the storm drains blowout,” Rayner said.

Despite all of that, they say they wouldn’t change where they live for the world.

“Take care! Enjoy that beautiful view!” they tell us, and as we paddle away, it’s easy to see why they love this place.

“Wow! That’s beautiful,” I say looking directly into an elaborate sunset over the water.

Thinking back to where we started, a drainage ditch by the interstate that’s trashed and overlooked by just about all of us, it puts things in a new perspective. You can’t fully enjoy Mobile Bay or a sunset on Dog River, without first reclaiming Eslava Creek.


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