Renew Our Rivers exceeds expectations

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-The final numbers are in for the 2005 Renew Our Rivers project and they are astonishing. When all was said and done 78,900 pounds of trash were removed from Demopolis waters.

Throughout the week of April 12-16 the pile of garbage at the North City landing seemed to grow higher and higher every day. Everything from boats, to washing machines, to school buses and refridgerators were pulled from the river.

In the end, it made for a much cleaner river system and many tired volunteers. Volunteers from the Greene County Steam Plant and Alabama Power, who sponsored the event and others who participated, had reason to be tired. Over 1,999 volunteer hours were logged with 368 participants,

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Greene County Steam Plant representative Bob McCants said they expected a large scale cleanup, but were surprised by the final numbers.

“I would say it was a surprise to us,” McCants said. “We told our cleanup crew it would be about 50,000 pounds and we exceeded that.”

Amanda Hall, who also helped organize the event, said the efforts of everyone who helped out were greatly appreciated and helped them to a very successful Renew Our Rivers and Earth Day campaign

“We really exceeded our expectations quite a bit,” Hall said. “We had a lot of volunteer efforts and a lot of help. Probably the Earth Day cleanup was bigger than expected.”

The program has a reputation for having a positive impact on communities and river systems. Renew Our Rivers is the Southeast’s largest organized river-system cleanup and is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

The Demopolis effort showed just how much the program has grown. It began as a small community cleanup project in 2000 and has since involved into more than 5,000 volunteers from homeowner and boat-owner associations, environmental groups, Alabama Power employees, schools and civic organizations who participate in the volunteer-led cleanups.

Alabama Power, with the help of volunteers, removed more than 1.24 million pounds of trash in 2004 from Alabama’s banks and waterways during the spring and fall cleanups of Renew Our Rivers. This years totals should be even greater.

Since the campaign began in 2000, more than 3 million pounds of tires, water heaters, refrigerators, boats and trash has been removed from lakes and streams in Alabama and Georgia. The 3 million pound milestone was reached during the Lake Neely Henry cleanup in Gadsden in spring of 2004.

The Renew Our Rivers 2005 spring campaign featured 12 volunteer cleanups on lakes along the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior Rivers in Alabama and on the upper Coosa River in Georgia.