By Valerie Baldowski
Local volunteers are needed to pitch in, and help clean up one of Henry County's environmental resources.
The Henry County Stormwater Management Department is looking for participants to take part in the 6th Annual Rivers Alive cleanup. The event is scheduled for Oct. 2, from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m. It will take place at the South River Waterway, at River Road and Old Snapping Shoals Road, in McDonough, according to county officials.
The local program is an important tool in efforts to preserve the natural environment, said Annie Huff, environmental compliance specialist and public outreach coordinator for Henry County Stormwater.
"Rivers Alive is a volunteer waterway clean-up event that targets removing debris from the local waterways within Henry County, including streams, rivers and lakes," said Huff. "[It] increases pollution-prevention awareness, and promotes community involvement in the preservation of our local water resources."
Since the clean-up campaign began in Henry County in 2004, a total of 426 volunteers have donated their time, collecting and disposing of 98,470 pounds of trash and debris from sections of the county's waterways, said Huff.
"In 2009, there were nearly 125 local volunteers. Exceeding or even doubling last year's volunteer count ... would be a tremendous success," said Huff.
Breakfast and lunch will be served to the volunteers, said Julie Hoover-Ernst, Henry County communications director. Locally, she said, Rivers Alive is sponsored by Henry County's Stormwater Management Department and the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority.
State-wide, Rivers Alive is held each fall throughout Georgia, she said. It is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Adopt-a-Stream Program, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs' Keep Georgia Beautiful Program.
The program began locally as a way for the county to stay in compliance with state and federal regulations, said Huff. "The idea of a river clean-up event was conceived in the early 1990s, with the first cleanup being organized by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division in 1992," Huff said. "In 2004, the stormwater utility was established, and Henry County Stormwater Management conducted its first Rivers Alive cleanup as part of 'Best Management Practices,' as required by state and federal law, to maintain the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System."
Anyone interested in volunteering, can contact the Henry County Stormwater Management Department, at (770) 288-RAIN (7246).