186 turnout for Rivers Alive river cleanup

Special to the Henry Daily Herald

Several local volunteers took part in the fourth annual Rivers Alive river cleanup in order to protect local waterways, specifically the South River, which feeds sources for area drinking water and recreation.

The clean-up, hosted by Henry County Stormwater Management and the Henry County Water & Sewerage Authority (HCWSA), turned out 186 volunteers who helped clean some 4 tons of trash along the South River shoreline.

"We were blown away by the number of citizens who came out to help," said Tonja Mincey of the water authority. "In addition to employees from the County and the water authority, we had Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, local residents and property owners in the area, educators, and overall, just a lot of people who care for their community, especially their environment."

Rivers Alive is a statewide, volunteer clean-up event, which targets all waterways in Georgia, including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, and wetlands. The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of, and involvement in, the preservation of Georgia's water resources through waterway cleanups, which typically are held each fall across the state.

Chris Kodani, an assistant professor of biology at Clayton State University who also teaches public Adopt-A-Stream classes locally, was one of the many on hand, who have a personal and professional interest in keeping local waterways clean.

"What a nice effort by a lot of people who turned out to help," Kodani said. "I was amazed by the amount of trash we collected, and people were able to clean up to 40 or 50 feet off the banks of the river. The event went great, and this is a beautiful site in which to work."

Rivers Alive was organized by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Division's Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program, as well as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs' Keep Georgia Beautiful Program, in cooperation with the Columbus "Help the Hooch" campaign.

In addition to providing the community with fresh drinking water, Georgia's waterways are also the resources for outdoor recreational opportunities, such as fishing and canoeing.

Educating the public on how to reduce or eliminate stormwater pollution was at the heart of the objectives of the local Rivers Alive cleanup, said Erik Lombard, Henry County's stormwater management director.

Everyone contributes to some degree to polluting waterways, though they may not be aware of it, Lombard added. "From fertilizers and other chemicals we spray on our lawns, to oil from parking lots, it all eventually ends up in our waterways. The annual Rivers Alive clean-up event is [a way for citizens] to give back to the environment and protect our waterways from stormwater pollution."