By Joel Hall
For more than 10 years, the Clayton County Water Authority and Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., have teamed up to keep trash out of the Flint River through the Rivers Alive program.
This weekend, the program will begin to ensure the cleanliness of the county's smaller streams, creeks, and tributaries. Saturday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m., until noon, volunteers and county officials will work together to clean up Tar Creek, a small stream which flows through Rex Park.
Suzanne Brown, the water authority's public information officer, believes the change in the clean-up strategy will attract a new audience of volunteers to the project.
"Normally, in the past, we have had it at Swint Elementary off of Highway 138, because the Flint River runs through it," said Brown. "We really thought it might be good to work our way through the county, so we won't be cleaning the same spot in the county every year. We're also hoping to get some volunteers that we haven't had in the past."
While the streams which feed into the Flint River provide Clayton residents with most of their drinking water, the rivers can often become a dump site, according to Brown. Rather than dispose of items properly, Brown said, people will often dispose of tires, bicycles, and other bulky items which can harm the quality of the water.
"It's amazing some of the things people will dump," said Brown. "Last year, we found furniture, a mattress, a lot of larger items."
Brown said for the volunteers who help with the clean up, "it's a great lesson and it really drives home the importance of disposing of things properly."
Edie Yongue, director of Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., said this year's Rivers Alive clean-up will have the benefit of being in close proximity to Adamson Middle School, Rex Mill Middle School, and Roberta T. Smith Elementary.
She said the event serves as a great educational tool, as volunteers will also be able test the water for pH levels and trace chemicals ,which could be harmful to nearby plants and animals.
"It's a good learning experience for young people and even adults," said Yongue. "It brings awareness. When we throw litter out of our cars, and you get a rain, it is going to find its way to a stream and pollute our water ... We don't need that.
"Water isn't free," Yongue added. "It costs money to treat it, so we should do all that we can to preserve it."
Volunteers will meet at Rex Park, located 3499 Rex Road in Rex, next to the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center. To volunteer, call Suzanne Brown at (770) 960-6972.