Here’s NBC news report on recent study about plastic in our oceans (link)
This study is comparable to the work by the Sea Education Associations ocean plastic discussed here.
We have a serious plastic stormwater trash problem that is hurting our local creeks, Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers as well as the Atlantic Ocean. This photo gallery shows my 10/13/14 trash survey along the West Deptford, NJ Delaware River bank. (PDF here)
Pennsylvania and New Jersey litter gets washed into local creeks during rain storms and makes its way down stream to the Delaware where it gets moved around by wind and tide. Some gets caught on W Deptford’s river shoreline.
There were 33,213 litter code violation notices issued in 2013. Here’s a map that shows the number of litter code violations by the 10 City Council Districts.
I previously wrote about the Germantown 2013 litter code violation map. In this post, I want to provide a short how-to for this E Mt Airy 2013 Litter Code Violation Map so that others can produce similar maps for their neighborhoods.
I started using ESRI’s ArcMap after working with ESRI’s free ArcGIS Desktop Explorer for about a year. I love both products, with ArcMap providing the critical geoprocessing tools I needed to drill down into Philadelphia’s litter problem.
You’ll need a full GIS tool to be able to analyze Philadelphia litter data the way I have.
Litter Data Data Requirements
You need 3 data shapefiles to reproduce the E Mt Airy Litter code Violation map for your neighborhood. Here are the files with links tht you need:
Working with Code Violation Notice (CVN) Shapefile
The City’s CVN shapefile is pretty good size for my desktop PC at 450 thousand records. Once you load the CVN shapefile, I suggest that you open the CVN attribute table and select just 2013 CVNs for these litter codes:
Once you have selected just the litter CVN for 2013, you save this data set as a new shapefile and use it as a layer for further analysis. Use the data > export option , give the export an understandable name and you now have just City wide 2013 litter CVNs.
Selecting 2013 Litter CVNs in your Neighborhood
You now want to select just those 2013 CVNs in your neighborhood. To do this, activate the neighborhoods layer you downloaded from Open Data Philly and select your neighborhood. One way you can do this is to click the Selection menu, choose Interactive Selection and go to desired neighborhood polygon and right click to select the desired polygon.
You now want to make a boundary layer for your desired neighborhood. Please note that you could add additional neighborhoods if you wanted. Once you have your neighborhood(s) selected, right click your City neighborhoods layer and select Data to export your neighborhood boundary as a separate layer. Be sure to name it with a useful neighborhood id so that you can retrieve it later.
Clip City 2013 Litter CVN Data to your Neighborhood Boundary
You now have a layer with just 2013 litter CVN data for the City and your desired neighborhood layer. To get just the litter CVNs in your neighborhood, you need to clip the City 2013 CVN layer with your neighborhood boundary.
Be sure to save your new clipped data layer with a recognizable name.
Map and Analysis
You now have a layer with just 2013 litter CVNs for your neighborhood. You are ready to produce your neighborhood map. You can use either one of the available basemaps or use the a clipped layer from the City’s centerline layer.
Here is a link to an excellent 10/5/14 Courier-Post article on trash along the Delaware Riverfront (link).
I have been surveying stormwater plastic trash along the banks of Philadelphia area creeks and rivers to assess the impact of Philadelphia’s street litter on our receiving waters. My overall survey plan is shown in this map:
This post reports on photo surveys of site 4 (General Pulaski Park) and site 5 (Penn Treaty Park).
General Pulaski Park, with its very limited river front, has stormwater trash in the southeast corner of the Park along the river front, as shown in this photo.
Penn Treaty Park is a 9.7 acre waterfront park with nearly 1,100 feet of accessible river front that can be viewed during low tide.
Slideshow showing how Philadelphia street litter makes its way to Tacony Creek Park and the Tacony Creek. Press icon at lower right to see slides full size.
Here’s a short video of the Litter Walk from Points A to B.
Philadelphia stormwater carries much of the City’s plastic street litter to our local creeks, Delaware River, Delaware Bay and some of it makes it all the way to the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. This map of plastic concentrations in the North Atlantic has been constructed from 6136 surface tows conducted by the Sea Education Association (SEA) from 1986 to 2008. Dr. Kara Law’s Sept. 3, 2010 Science article is available here. (Phila. location added to original for geographic reference)
This map shows the variation and extent of plastic debris accumulation in the North Atlantic. Some areas have 0 pieces per square kilometer (km2) while other areas have levels of 50,000 – 100,000 pieces /km2. Oceanographers attribute much of the variation to differences in ocean current velocities as shown in this map of near real time currents available here.
This map shows color coded ocean current velocities, with blue colors near 0 meters/ sec and red for fast currents of 1 meter/sec. The impact of the Gulf Stream is quite apparent and numerous low velocity eddy areas are also apparent.
If you look at the SEA map you will see a black contour line which is the 2 cm per second contour of the 10-year (1993 to 2002) mean surface circulation velocity. 2 cm per second (equivalent to 0.045 miles per hour), is a very slow velocity which enables plastic debris accumulation in these low velocity eddy areas.
SEA estimates that the Atlantic plastic patch has 800 million pieces of plastic with a low end gross weight estimate of 1,210 tons (2.4 million pounds).
What is Philadelphia’s contribution to the N Atlantic plastic trash patch?
We don’t know. We do now that Philadelphia street litter plastic makes its way to the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Creek (link, link, link) , Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers based on visual evidence along the creek-river banks. We know the New Jersey and Delaware River communities downriver of Philadelphia have trash problems along their waterfronts and we know that plastic has a very long life in the marine environment, so that it is logical to assume that some of Philadelphia’s plastic litter is contributing to the N Atlantic plastic patch.