On The Bubble: How This Source Water Quality Innovation Stops Trash Headed To The Ocean

One of the world’s most historically innovative water managers has now implemented a decidedly futuristic solution for protecting source water quality.

“The latest innovation to tackle plastic pollution? A bubble barrier,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported. “The Dutch startup behind the Bubble Barrier has teamed up with the municipality of Amsterdam and the regional water authority to run a three-year pilot of its technology.”

The Bubble Barrier project is just that: a wall of bubbles capable of capturing discarded plastics in waterways while allowing for the flow of marine life and commercial boats. And while it might seem unlikely that mere bubbles can make a real difference in the growing scourge of source water pollution, according to WEF the prototype was able to stop more than 85% of the waste that came its way.

Amsterdam seems like the perfect place to implement the next generation of source water solutions, as the Netherlands has such a rich history in innovative water management, including 700 years of keeping floodwaters at bay.

Today, much of the city’s focus is on keeping its historic and renowned canals free of trash, driving interest in a solution like the Bubble Barrier.

“The Bubble Barrier will prevent Amsterdam canal plastic from flowing in the North Sea,” according to the project’s website. “This is a global first in the fight against plastic pollution. The Bubble Barrier was commissioned by the Amstel, Gooi and Vecht Water Management Board and the Municipality of Amsterdam as an extension of ‘Amsterdam Clean Water’ which strives for clean plastic-free waters in Amsterdam.”

As the barrier captures plastic, the city’s water authority empties the catchment system’s basket three times a week, sending the captured trash to a waste processing center that sorts any recyclable material. And the nature of the Bubble Barrier has another potential benefit as well.

“Beyond keeping plastic from our oceans, the system could help change attitudes,” per CNN. “Because the waste inside the catchment system is easily visible to passersby, [it could help] people realize how much waste is ending up in our waterways; in this way, the barrier also acts as an educational tool to discourage waste and littering.”

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