PRESS RELEASE: ORK, City of Savannah install litter traps to Protect the Vernon

Effort is part of a long-term project to improve the health of the Vernon watershed 

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) and the City of Savannah are partnering to lead a long term project to protect the water quality and ecology of the Vernon River. Two litter booms were recently deployed in an effort to catch litter before it reaches the river or the ocean. The booms were installed in the Chippewa and Harmon Canals. These traps will be cleaned out regularly and the litter will be sorted, analyzed, cataloged and then recycled or disposed of responsibly. 

The booms were designed and installed by Osprey Initiative, and were paid for by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). ORK received the 5 Star grant from NFWF for its comprehensive plan involving multiple stakeholders in the area. 

In 2021, ORK the City of Savannah, and other stakeholders set out to restore the waterways in the Vernon River basin to the point that it can be delisted as an impaired waterbody by GA EPD; and to reduce the amount of litter and plastic pollution entering the waterways. The canals and tributaries that feed the Vernon River are highly impacted by urban development.

“All of Savannah’s stormwater infrastructure flows into a public waterway,” says Laura Walker, Water Resources Environmental Manager for the City of Savannah. “These waterways are lifelines to Savannah’s environmental and economic health. We work hard every day to try and keep them fishable and swimmable. But we need everyone to treat the storm system with care. We need everyone to protect the storm drains, ditches, and creeks and keep them clean.” 

The Vernon River receives a significant amount of the stormwater leaving the City of Savannah, via Wilshire Canal, Harmon Canal, Casey Canal, and Hayners Creek, all part of the Ogeechee River watershed. The goal is to improve water quality, restore ecological habitat, and “Protect The Vernon” from current and future threats. 

“We are so grateful for the broad group of stakeholders working with us to minimize the threats that urban runoff, and litter and plastic pollution pose to this special waterbody,” says Damon Mullis, riverkeeper and executive director. “Local residents are encouraged to volunteer for litter cleanups, citizen science programs, educational events, and more in the coming months.”

Sign up to volunteer, view data, watch an installation video, and view the successes to date:

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 22 counties in Georgia. More at