Renew Our Rivers kicks off

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; The Renew Our Rivers campaign is asking area residents to volunteer to roll up their sleeves in a cleanup effort on Lake Demopolis this week. This will be the third stop for the campaign in Demopolis beginning Thursday and continuing through Saturday. As part of the campaign, volunteers will meet at the City Landing to remove trash, tires and discarded items from the river.

The campaign is the Southeast&8217;s largest river cleanup campaign. The campaign kicks off the 2007 spring and summer schedule with a cumulative goal of removing 11 million pounds of trash and debris from Alabama and southeast rivers. There are 19 cleanups planned from Feb. 24 through Aug. 18.

Partnering with the campaign, the City of Demopolis will be doing their part to assist in the clean-up efforts.

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Baker said the items would be accepted from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. He said while the public works department will be accepting bulk items, they will not accept household garbage.

Baker said the city also hopes residents use this opportunity in order to ease the burden on Arrow, by not filling their trucks with these bulk items.

The clean up dates for Lake Demopolis are beginning at 8 a.m. each morning. Lunch will be served for participants each day at noon.

Crews will be in boats cleaning up the river as well as on land cleaning up debris that will eventually get into the river system if it&8217;s not cleaned up.

Last year more that 61,500 pounds of trash was removed from Demopolis Lake. Almost 60 percent was recycled. A total of 196 volunteers worked 1,235 man-hours to help in the clean up efforts last year.

So far, more than 6,000 volunteers, including Alabama Power employees, civic groups, schools and homeowner and boat owner organizations, have participated in Renew Our Rivers. Cleanups are held on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Black Warrior and Mobile Rivers in Alabama and the Upper Coosa in Georgia and for the first time on the Cahaba River.

Since its inception in 2000, volunteers have removed some 7.5 million pounds of trash, Styrofoam and other litter from Alabama and Georgia lakes. In 2006, 1.71 million pounds of trash was collected during the spring and fall cleanups.

Hall and McCants also request to the community that if they have sofas, mattresses and appliances that they would like to discard, they can bring them to the river as well. This does not include regular household garbage.

The project continues to be recognized nationally. In December 2006, Renew Our Rivers received the 1st place Litter Prevention Award from Keep America Beautiful, its second national honor from the organization. The award was presented at KAB&8217;s annual conference in Orlando, Fla. earlier this year; the Renew Our Rivers program won the prestigious Outstanding Stewardships of America&8217;s Rivers award from the National Hydropower Association.

The first Renew Our Rivers cleanup took place in the spring of 2000 on Lake Neely Henry near Gadsden, spearheaded by Alabama Power in cooperation with Keep Etowah Beautiful.

For more information contact Hall at 289-6129 or McCants at 289-6160.

Staff writer James Gilmore contributed to this report.