ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The amount of garbage in our waterways has become a global crisis. Atlanta is no different, and the trash is affecting our neighbors health and way of life.

CBS46’S Melissa Stern went out on the Chattahoochee River today to see how bad the problem is…and the amount of trash she saw was eye-opening.

 “You can’t enjoy it, you can’t take your family out skiing in this water with trash, bottles, bio-hazard containers,” said John Bryan, who frequents the Chattahoochee River.

The river is filled with trash, especially after a heavy rain.

“All the way down to West Point Damn, there’s no buffer anywhere,” added Bryan, “It’s just dirty water.”

“When you get a heavy rain, it washes all this trash into Proctor Creek and into the Chattahoochee River,” said Jason Ulseth, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. All the litter gets picked up by storm water runoff.

“It all ends right there, all the trash in Atlanta stops,” said Bryan as he pointed to his boat’s map. It goes into smaller creeks, and eventually makes its way into the Chattahoochee River.

“This right here is one of the worst coves,” Bryan said as he pointed to a pocket where debris washed up.

“We actually are seeing that these plastics are being degraded and broken down into something called microplastics, and that gets consumed by fish and other wildlife and has really bad impacts,” Ulseth added.

The Coca Cola Foundation’s World Without Waste Program funded trash traps.

“That is a Litter Gitter,” said Ulseth, pointing to one of the traps along Proctor Creek.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is installing these trash traps along Atlanta’s waterways to collect trash before it makes its way down into the river.

“If you throw a coke can in downtown Atlanta, it’s going to wind up here in LaGrange, Georgia,” said Bryan.

“When people litter, they don’t actually realize that they’re polluting our river, which is our drinking water supply, and supplies water for 5 million people,” Ulseth said.

Ulseth says they clean out the trash traps each time it rains. Bryan says it’s going to take more than that to see any changes.

“Everybody needs to come together and accept that, hey, this is our world, and we have to take care of it,” Bryan added.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has public trash cleanups twice a month. They said they are installing even more trash traps in the upcoming weeks.

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