Saturday, Sept. 19, hundreds of volunteers gathered together to pick up trash along the Chattahoochee River. The effort, called River’s Alive, is an annual volunteer event open to the public. It is also sometimes referred to as Renew Our Rivers. McIntosh Reserve Park and Georgia Power, their major sponsor, hosted River’s Alive. This year marks the fifteenth year the event has taken place.
McIntosh Reserve Park and Georgia Power provided trash bags, gloves and other materials for the volunteers. Volunteers also received t-shirts and a barbeque picnic lunch as a thank you for their contributions.
“I think this is our 12th Renew Our Rivers event for Georgia Power Plant Yates and this year our sister plant down river of [Chattahoochee], Plant Wansley, joined us,” said Ken McBee, senior compliance specialist at Georgia Power Plant Yates. “So it is a combined effort this year between Georgia Power Plant Yates, Georgia Power Plant Wansley, and McIntosh Reserve. What we see this as is an opportunity for Georgia Power to give back to the community.”
One group from the University of West Georgia (UWG) that participated in the event was the Wesley Foundation, a Christian campus ministry. Many of their students got ankle deep in the muggy water to fish out waste materials.
“[River’s Alive] is a great community event for people from all over—Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, college students, community people—to do something good for our community and at least once a year clean up that stretch of the river,” said Karen Kagiyama, minister at the Wesley Foundation. “We had a great time today; we hauled out a canoe and a bunch of debris and filled I don’t know how many trash bags full.”
McIntosh Reserve Park’s cleanup occurs as a part of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s statewide River’s Alive initiative, where riverside cleanups are organized continually in many different places in Georgia. Potential volunteers can visit riversalive.com for a list of cleanup locations.
The River’s Alive website also boasts a variety of detailed maps, graphs and charts to show the progress that each cleanup has achieved. The interactive map, depicting pounds of garbage collected in various locations, gives a good visual of the work that is happening. It is interesting to note however that this year, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s overall number of event participants and number of volunteer hours logged is starkly lower than previous years. In order to have the same impact, more volunteers giving more of their time will be needed by the time this year ends.
“[River’s Alive] is an opportunity for volunteers to come together, cleanup up along the river bank, and improve our waterways in the state of Georgia,” said McBee. “And that is what Renew Our Rivers is about, improving the waterways and getting people out there and seeing what the state has to offer, in terms of waterways and parks and recreation.”