On its journey through Louisville, Beargrass Creek picks up all kinds of garbage.

Recent flooding has brought even more than normal, making what sewer officials are calling “Trash Island” outside the Beargrass Creek Pump Station.

“This is trash accumulated all along the various tributaries of Beargrass Creek,” said Sheryl Lauder, Metropolitan Sewer District spokeswoman.

The pump station is one of 16 protecting Louisville Metro from rising flood waters. An estimated 40 billion gallons of rain fell in five days, raising the Ohio River to heights not seen since 1997.

But with waters receding, the Beargrass Creek Pump Station is collecting a massive amount of garbage.

Logs, basketballs, Styrofoam clam shells and old five-gallon buckets float alongside 12 to 15-foot logs.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

Trash collecting in front of flood gates at Beargrass Creek Pump Station in Louisville on February 28, 2018.


“Well we have a broad array of coolers,” Lauder said. “We have some Valentine’s paraphernalia, we have a tire, lots and lots of plastic bottles and cups, many balls, basketballs, kickballs. It looks like there might be a microwave out there and there’s an entire door.”

The mass together forms a kind of barrier that protects the pumps that keep the Beargrass Creek flowing toward the Ohio River, even with the flood gates down.

The city plans to keep Trash Island in place at least until Friday, when it plans to bring in a crane to clean the mess.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment reporter.