LA has a high-tech solution to clean up a dirty creek

Aerial of Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook with the Ballona Creek winding through Culver City to the Ballona Wetlands and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Marina Del Rey.
Aerial of Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook with the Ballona Creek winding through Culver City to the Ballona Wetlands and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Marina Del Rey.
Craig Collins/Baldwin Hills Conservancy

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Ballona Creek flows from mid-L.A. through Culver City, emptying into the Santa Monica Bay, and along with water, it carries a lot of trash and debris.

The nonprofit Ballona Creek Renaissance organizes clean ups at the creek. 

"What we have been doing with with our bare hands has captured and diverted over a ton [of trash] every year, but it's minimal compared to what goes out there," says Sandrine Cassidy, the group's vice president.

Now L.A. County has a more high-tech solution: it's called The Intercepter. It's a solar-powered barge that catches floating trash on conveyor belts and sorts it into dumpsters so it can be disposed of on shore.

The Interceptor was created by The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit. County Supervisor Janice Hahn says the group is paying to test the technology in Ballona Creek because its research showed the creek is a heavy polluter.

"Ballona Creek is one of 1,000 waterways worldwide that are responsible for 80 percent of all plastic pollution in the ocean," Hahn says.

The Ocean Cleanup aims to put Interceptors in all those rivers. Ballona Creek's two-year pilot is slated to start next September.