A group called Rivers Alive is enlisting the aid of a multitude of volunteers from the community to clean up the litter in Georgia’s waterways.
Rivers Alive is part of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and aims to cleanup waterways in Georgia. It has been around for a little over 15 years. Every year, the number of events they host steadily increases, as more and more volunteers get involved. So far in 2017, there have been 60 events, according to the official Rivers Alive Website.
People of all ages showed up to a recent Rivers Alive event in Athens to clean up litter around town, specifically near river banks. There were more than 10 various sites in Athens-Clarke County that volunteers could be assigned to. Families, high school clubs, UGA clubs and societies, and individuals assembled at 8 A.M. to get instructions and then split off by 9 A.M. to get to work.
Stacey Ferrell, Executive Director of Keep Athens Beautiful, said “I think that because of the recent Irma and weather that we’ve had in our community, I suspect we’re gonna find some bigger items that weren’t blown down stream, that may have been stable enough to stick in the trees and along the banks of the river. So I would imagine we might find larger things this year as opposed to the smaller individual pieces of debris.”
Stacey who has been part of the project for 15 years was absolutely right. At the Bailey Street cleanup location off of Barnett Shoals Road, volunteers came across plastic bottles, tires, and even a full couch and furniture set.
In terms of volunteer turnout, the event was a huge success. Anna Cobb, intern at The Office of Sustainability, noted, “Rivers alive filled up for sure, 450 people pre-registered and more people walked up today. So, this was a really big, successful event.”
There’s not an exact estimate of the amount of trash collected on this day alone, however, out of all the 60 events that have occurred so far in 2017, 34,271 pounds of garbage have been collected (also found on the official Rivers Alive website).
Here in Athens, picking up litter is the most direct way to keep our 17 watersheds, that lead into 15 rivers and 2 creeks, clean. According to The Athens-Clarke County official page for watershed management, there have not been any annual management plans since 2015, which means that help from citizens can make a big difference.
Cobb also mentioned that the type of turnout seen at this particular event would make a positive impact if seen at more events in the future. She said, “I know there’s a lot of parents and kids out here. I think that could be helpful for other events, even if they are for UGA, to have more people from the community besides just students.”
By Jessica Silverman