Bee Branch Creek

Mark Dedina, right, works on a “floating island” to provide habitat for aquatic life and clean Bee Branch Creek in Dubuque.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Think of them as nature’s kidneys, Autumn Boos said of the matrix of recycled drinking bottles that resemble giant pot scrubbers sitting next to Dubuque’s 16th Street Detention Basin.

Over time, the porous, raftlike structures made with nontoxic post-consumer plastics will be teeming with native plants and aquatic life, the marketing director of Midwest Floating Island told the Telegraph Herald newspaper.

“The wonderful symmetry is we take around 67,000 plastic bottles that otherwise would go into a landfill and instead use them to clean the water and create a floating ecosystem,” Boos said.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company started installing a system of “floating islands” in Bee Branch Creek recently to target excess nutrients in the water and increase biodiversity.

Part of Dubuque’s Bee Branch Creek restoration effort, the project will consist of 14 islands of various sizes and with a total combined area of 2,674 square feet. The project will provide habitat for butterflies, insects, fish, waterfowl, turtles and frogs.

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