Trash Monitoring

Help Us Track Our Trash Hot Spots!


We invite you to join the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s revolutionary Trash Team. We need help tracking the litter in the watershed. We have made great progress in the past few years, but we still have work to do. In order to reach our goal of a trash free Potomac Watershed, we need your help documenting the ongoing litter problem in the Potomac Watershed.

The results that you submit will provide valuable input for site selection for Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and other volunteer cleanups. Data will also be used to guide new policies, to track the implementation of stormwater permits, or to pursue future listings of impairment of a waterbody by trash.

There are TWO ways you can participate:


  1. Become a Visible Trash Survey (VTS) Monitor –The Visible Trash Survey (VTS) is an important tool for monitoring the sources and composition of land-based trash in our watershed. The survey involves categorizing and counting visible trash along a 200 foot length along a body of water, road or land, within the confines of the Potomac River watershed. VTS volunteers spend approximately an hour of their time per site and will commit to surveying the area quarterly.
  2. Become a Photo Monitoring Volunteer – Similar to the VTS, but use your camera or camera-phone instead of physically counting. Submit photos of an area (any size) within the Potomac Watershed that you monitor quarterly. We will compile your submissions and use them to show impairment of the Potomac River Watershed.

2012 Trash Summit Notes and Presentations

  • Keith Jones, District of Columbia Office of the Clean City: Monitoring city-wide hotspots and exploring methods used to collect this data, as well as how this information is shared with other agencies within the District. View Presentation
  • Sherry Lippiatt, Marine Debris Specialist, NOAA Marine Debris Program / IMSG, Office of Response and Restoration: Exploring NOAA’s new shoreline and boat protocol and how it might be used in the Potomac Watershed. View Presentation
  • Laura Chamberlin, Program Manager, Alice Ferguson Foundation: Engaging, training, and retaining volunteer monitors and using National Geographic’s Fieldscope for tracking and sharing data. View Presentation
  • Session Notes

To participate in these surveys, contact the Trash Initiative at 301-292-5665 or [email protected].

School and Community groups are encouraged
to JOIN one or both of our surveys today!