Yellow River Water Trail volunteers spent several hours both Thursday and Friday attempting to clean up the trash accumulation in the Yellow River and under the Porterdale Bridge, following the recent floods of the river.
Tonya Bechtler, who volunteers regularly, said Water Trail members who have been monitoring the Yellow River for the last three years and have never seen such a mess.
Typically, trash comes from storm water runoff. This means nearly every piece of trash that ends up on the side of the road or in a drain, finds its way to one of the three major rivers in Newton County.
A large amount of what the Water Trail members find is sports equipment, which includes tennis balls, baseballs and basketballs. Two other major items found among the mess are Styrofoam products and cigarette butts, which can stay in the river for a minimum of 10 years.
“Until you get out on the river and see the magnitude of it, you don’t understand,” Bechtler said. “You don’t think when you throw that cigarette butt out your window that it may stay there for 10 years or maybe even end up in the ocean.”
The cleanup effort of the Yellow River Water Trail volunteers will take at least three weekends.
Kimberly Brown, the owner of the YAK club — a club that offers free kayak rentals to the Adopt-A-Stream program on the Yellow River for cleaning and water testing — cleans the river once every week and might be the most dedicated member of the group, according to Bechtler.
People can help with cleaning the rivers is by participating in the Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful Great American Cleanup project.
The event will take place March 23. Volunteers must register by March 15 in order to receive a T-shirt.
All volunteers should arrive at the Covington Longhorn Steakhouse at 9 a.m. and will receive a complimentary breakfast.