Sunday, August 10, 2003

Volunteers give river a clean sweep

Tons of garbage picked up during annual project

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

From left, friends Katie Volz, 17; Lauren Ison, 16; and Shayna Gerster, 17, from Milan, Ind., took part in the annual River Sweep Saturday.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN

The mighty Ohio River is flowing a little easier near its Tristate shores after the annual River Sweep netted tons of garbage, debris and some oddities Saturday.

The annual event had been postponed twice this summer because of high river levels.

Saturday morning, hundreds of volunteers finally got the go-ahead to start picking up trash along designated shorelines of the Ohio River.

Normally River Sweep volunteers coordinate the cleanup on a single day at sites along the river's 3,000- mile shoreline from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill., through six states and 72 counties.

High river levels along the Ohio, however, made it impossible to hold the cleanup on one day this year, said Jeanne Ison, spokeswoman for the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (Orsanco).

"Considering the delays we had, the turnout was good," said Ison, who said about 75 volunteers worked the Schmidt Field site in the East End.

Last year Orsanco officials collected 11,000 tons of debris. No estimates were available from Saturday's sweep, but Ison said the Schmidt Field volunteers working along a three-mile stretch of shoreline filled a giant Dumpster in about four hours.

Every year the Ohio River coughs up unusual items.

This year's haul, Ison said, included tennis balls along the Ohio side of the river near Eastern Avenue.

"There were a lot of tennis balls, and they were in good shape too," she said.

The first River Sweep took place in 1989.

"It's getting a lot better,'' Ison said. "We used to find a lot of refrigerators, TVs and couches, but we're not finding things like that any more. I think people are having a greater respect for the Ohio River. They are beginning to realize it brings us our drinking water, power and transportation to the area."


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