Millions of pounds of trash end up in our rivers and streams every year. It’s more than just an eyesore. It can contaminate your drinking water and threaten the life of all who depend on it- human and nature. But in Conway, South Carolina, our volunteers are doing something about it.
American Rivers partnered with Winyah Rivers Foundation and the Waccamaw Riverkeeper to clean up the Waccamaw River Blue Trail. The Waccamaw River is over 140 miles of gorgeous blackwater that is the color of tea on a sunny day or dark coffee when the clouds pass through. With more extreme weather events occurring in the region, the Waccamaw River has experienced some historical flooding in recent years. While flooding is scary in its own right, it also increases the amount of trash in the river as waters flow over typically dry areas picking up all trash and bringing it to the rivers, streams, and swamps.
On September 2, 2017, we held a clean-up event in downtown Conway. 77 people of all ages showed up to scour the land and water to leave out river pristine. With over 300 volunteer hours at this one event, 92 bags were collected and sorted into 57 bags of recycling and 35 bags of trash. Every clean-up always finds some odd items from rocking horses to patio furniture. The most unusual item this time was an above ground pool hauled in by the Burge family. Including the pool, almost 2000 pounds of waste was collected in a half day.
These are astounding numbers and we are so proud of these amazing volunteers. This effort also shines a light on a bigger problem of pollution in our society. You may not think twice about that fast food trash or drink can you toss out your window or flies out of the bed of your truck, but there is a good chance that its journey will end in our waterways. And a good rule of thumb for when you are spending a day on the river is to always pack out what you have packed in – this means take all your trash with you. It takes little effort and benefits our rivers and communities.