Volunteers Clear Pound After Pound of Trash from Waterways

Washington PA Observer Reporter
17 June 2012
By Michael Bradwell, Business editor

More than 600 volunteers picked up 250 tires and 25 pounds of trash along waterways in five Western Pennsylvania counties during Saturday's 22nd annual River Sweep.

The annual event, which took place at 23 cleanup sites in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland counties, is a six-state effort to clean up litter and debris in the Ohio River watershed, the largest organized volunteer river cleanup effort in the country. The event winds through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Illinois, covering more than 2,400 miles of shoreline.

"Volunteers came early and got the job done quickly before the heat of the day," said Pennsylvania River Sweep coordinator Betsy Mallison. "We saw less trash on some of our sites, but on others like Cowanshannock in Armstrong County and in Duck Hollow, Allegheny County, volunteers could have cleaned for days and days."

Mallison said a major reason for less debris this year at some sites was the lack of high water, which deposits greater amounts of trash along waterways.

Locally, 15 volunteers cleaned the section of Millers Run behind the Cecil post office, producing 35 bags of trash and seven tires. At the other nearby site, a section of Chartiers Creek at Chartiers Park in Bridgeville, 25 volunteers collected 30 bags of trash and 11 tires.

The event is sponsored in Pennsylvania by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and a number of Pennsylvania corporate sponsors, many of whom sponsored cleanup crews as part of Saturday's event.

But as in past years, Mallison said the volunteer effort was drawn from all corners of the area's population.

"It's the combination of community groups, churches, scout troops, sportsmen's groups, concerned citizens and corporate volunteers who all come together to make an impact on our waterways," Mallison said. "The River Sweep builds awareness of our waterways."