Renew Our Rivers is the Southeast’s largest organized river-system cleanup. Since it began in 2,000, more than 5,000 volunteers have collected 3.2 million pounds of trash from Alabama waterways. This spring’s cleanup is one of 12 scheduled on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Black Warrior and Mobile rivers. Renew Our Rivers, spearheaded by Alabama Power Company, is a grassroots project coordinated with assistance from community volunteers.
On behalf of the many Renew Our Rivers volunteers, Shad Ellis with Weiss Lake Improvement Association was proud to report another successful event this year.
“This is our sixth Renew Our Rivers on Weiss Lake and it looks like we are going to have 1,200 volunteers, up from 825 last year,” said Ellis. “And from all schools this year, we have over 700-plus students, this year, up from 425 last year and that’s really where we are trying to get the message to the young folks where we can change the learned behavior of throwing trash outside the vehicle.”
“I’ve found soiled diapers, a group from Gaylesville found a loaded 22 pistol on Highway 44, two bags of marijuana, and some hypodermic needles,” said Ellis. “That is just unbelievable to me that people are throwing their soiled diapers. I even found some tin cans on the Spring Creek Bridge. They probably stopped making tin cans 30 years ago and I’ve actually gotten several different corporate sponsors this year and I am going to put up a table up showing we are picking up all of your corporate byproducts and we want some funding. It’s not blackmail, it is diplomacy.”
Many of the students, Ellis said, are taking matters into their own hands!
“Many said they could not believe how much trash around the lake,” said Ellis. “They warned me they would bust anybody they saw showing trash out!”
The Mike Oakley family were some of the many volunteers who were helping out with the Weiss Lake Renew Our Rivers Cleanup on the causeway between Centre and Cedar Bluff this past weekend. Oakley works in public relations for Alabama Power Company and they made the trip from Bibb County to participate in the Weiss Lake Campaign.
“It has gone great,” said Oakley. “Of course many have been here all week cleaning up and this is kind of the wrap-up day, but it has been an excellent, excellent, day. This has been one of our most successful campaigns, from the start to the finish.”
According to information provided by Alabama Power, nearly 1,000 students, volunteers and civic groups signed up to clean up along the banks and shores of Weiss Lake Saturday, March 26, as part of the Renew Our Rivers campaign. This cleanup is coordinated by members of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association.
“They (WLIA) do such a great job all of the time of keeping Renew Our Rivers at the forefront of everyone’s minds,” said Oakley. “We’ve been out here for about two hours so far. I guess just our little family here has picked up about four or five bags already. It is unreal what is on a 200-yard stretch of road. These bags weigh about 30 pounds each. But we’re up here having a good time and it’s for a good cause.”
Oakley described some of the items they found.
“Oh my gosh, we’ve found tires, bottles, pill bottles, heard reports,” said Oakley. “We heard yesterday somebody found two bags of dope, a pistol. It is unreal. It’s a shame that children have to pick up after what what adults do. It’s crazy.”
However, Oakley adds, “When people come from the outside to your own backyard to help clean up, it gets you fire up to do it year-around. It is a beautiful day. Since this began in 2000, over 5,000 volunteers have collected roughly three and a half million pounds of trash from Renew Our Rivers Campaign. It has been unbelievable.