Keep Liberty Beautiful will complete the sixth annual Rivers Alive events this week.
These annual statewide waterway cleanups are part of an effort to preserve and protect our waterways throughout Georgia.
When we complete the cleanups this week, we will have cleaned up more than 30 locations around Liberty County.
People often ask me why we have waterway cleanups in Hinesville, Flemington, Walthourville and Allenhurst, which aren’t really coastal communities.
Shouldn’t cleanup volunteers focus on the east end of the county, near the marshes and rivers?
Well, actually, it’s a lot easier to capture litter before it ends up in waterways, streams and creeks. Most of our litter originates from highly populated areas, like cities.
When it rains or when the wind is strong, litter and debris on the street gets swept into storm drains.
Many familiar everyday items become “food” for those drains and the numerous creeks and canals that flow throughout our county toward the coast.
Fast-food wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts and other common items are only part of the problem.
Pesticides and fertilizers from yards, improperly disposed of paint and solvents, automotive products — like gasoline, motor oil and antifreeze — all can be washed down drains or even directly into local streams and creeks.
Now I know we don’t live in Atlanta or some big city, but our communities still have many impervious surfaces like paved streets, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways.
Rainwater washes over impervious surfaces and carries whatever trash is lying around into storm drains. I know many people actually even dump or discard items — like cigarette butts — into storm drains.
People think these drains are linked to water-treatment facilities, but that’s not true. Anything that ends up in the storm drains flows into our local waterways.
This type of pollution is called non-point source pollution because it can originate from many different sources as opposed to possible pollution that is traceable to a single source, like a factory. Non-point source pollution poses the biggest threat to the quality of our water in America.
Handle these items with care so you don’t contribute to the problem:
• Toxic chemicals like automotive fluids and some household and yard products can be quite harmful to humans, plants and animals. We don’t need this stuff in our waters. Just one quart of motor oil that has been improperly disposed of can ruin the quality of 250,000 gallons of water — enough to meet the needs of a family of four for a year.
• Fertilizers, pet waste and even decomposing leaves and grass clippings can cause algae to grow in our waters. Algae can deplete the oxygen levels and can lead to fish kills. Animal waste also can introduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens into our water supply.
• Sediment from soil erosion and construction activity can reduce the clarity of the water and block sunlight needed by aquatic plants and fish.
• Litter and debris can be mistaken for food by fish and birds and can be harmful to them.
So you can see why we need to make sure we keep our roadways, our sidewalks and parking lots as litter-free as possible. Those storm drains are always “hungry” and will take whatever comes their way. Please do your part to keep curbs and roads clean because you are also keeping our waterways clean, too.
Upcoming KLB activity
• America Recycles Day is Nov. 15. Throughout November, KLB will have a variety of recycling events, including a Recycle It! Fair, a community tire roundup and school recycling and electronics recycling events. For information, call KLB at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.