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City reviews clean up after Carnival Season and effectiveness of pilot program

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New Orleans Sanitation Department and Public Works reviewed the amount of debris collected post Carnival season and the effectiveness of drain blockers.

This year, the Department of Sanitation found about 100 tons less trash in catch basins than last year.

"For Mardi Gras, we collected approximately 1,199 tons of debris. That includes a ton that was actually recycled," Director of Sanitation Cynthia Sylvain Lear said.

The city launched a pilot recycling project during Mardi Gras with Arc of Greater New Orleans along parade routes.

Some of the biggest challenges they face are tarps, tents and ladders.

"There were some challenges, of course, with weather and rain. Arc did express that their costs were much higher than anticipated because of the volume of cleaning and sorting and the manpower that was needed," Lear said.

With the magnitude of trash collected, organizers of the recycling project say they need more support from the city.

"It's a shockingly low number of money that these parades pay to the city. None of that goes towards the Department of Sanitation," pilot program organizer Brett Davis said.

Others were concerned about the health impacts of beads falling into basins.

"A lot of these beads actually have toxic materials in them, so Howard Mielke, who's a toxicologist, has looked at this, has an independent analysis of beads. They found lead, they found arsenic, they found a lot of things you don't want in the city's water supply," Aaron Viles said.

The city purchased 200 "gutter buddies" along the parade routes and used mesh for french drains to keep beads out.

"We installed it into the ground, and we checked on it after each parade, and it really did work very well in keeping the beads out of the french drain system, which is a lot more difficult to clean and cannot really be cleaned with the equipment we currently have," Interim Director of Dept. of Public Works Dani Galloway said.

Some French Quarter residents voiced concerns about the lack of catch basin screens during Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street.

"Today we learned from the Director of Public Works that this morning the works started, and so the catch basins have all been cleaned and flushed out from all the debris that went in during Mardi Gras, because apparently there wasn't time to get them up before Mardi Gras. And then today the screens started going up, so we're really happy," Gail Cavett said.

The city also developed an "Adopt-A-Catch Basin" app for residents to name and take of individual basins.

They are hopeful to continue recycling programs during Carnival season.

"It's just really, really important. The more that we recycle, the less that we are paying in tipping fees, the faster the clean up process goes," Lear said.

One of the ways the city wants to encourage recycling is by working with local businesses to adopt cans for beads.

The Department of Sanitation designated March 10 as Mardi Gras Bead Day for those who want to recycle their beads.

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