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Keep Liberty Beautiful: Keeping pollution out of our storm drains
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell

Keep Liberty Beautiful

Eight hundred eighty trees is what Keep Liberty Beautiful staff, advisory board, and volunteers gave away for 2024 Arbor Day in Liberty County! We can’t wait to see all the photos of the 880 planted trees around our community. Nineteen volunteers and several recycle-minded residents turned in 8,230 pounds of household items and shredded paper to recycle, reuse, or dispose of safely on February 17.

KLB participated in the 2024 Gullah Geechee Heritage Forum, which was outstanding. My grandson Bryce helped me out at the booth and attended some of the workshops. He was so impressed that he could not wait to tell his family all about his weekend in Liberty County.

Our Adopt Liberty groups are cleaning up the community during the weekends, and so far, 15 miles of roadway have been cleaned. We still have more roads and ponds to clean up in Liberty County. You can join us by adopting a road or participating in the next cleanup event, the 2024 Great American Countywide Cleanup, on April 27.

Our ponds, such as the ones at Bryant Commons in Hinesville, catch a lot of litter and debris flowing in the pond from city storm drains. It takes volunteers to keep the ponds free of cigarette butts, cups, bottles, cans, fast food trash, and other nasty litter that people toss on our sidewalks and streets and, ultimately, end up traveling down city storm drains. All of these items are part of a problem called nonpoint source pollution.

Unfortunately, the most significant danger to our local waterways is that these “nonpoint sources” (NPS) are challenging to control. What are nonpoint sources of pollution? Nonpoint pollution develops mainly in our homes, backyards, on our roads, businesses, farms, and more heavily populated areas. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or irrigation moving over and through the ground. As the water runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants. Finally, depositing the litter into creeks, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water. It is often referred to as stormwater pollution because those little downpours of rain wash the pollution and debris into our groundwater and our waterways. These pollutants include: * Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production * Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks * Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines * Bacteria and nutrients from animals, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems * and, of course, litter. According to the EPA, nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water quality problems. Nonpoint pollution is known to harm drinking water and wildlife. As urbanization continues, the effects of nonpoint pollution only worsen. It takes all of us to take action to change many of our harmful daily habits and look for proactive ways to make a difference. One way could be adopting an area in Liberty County. You can be one of our Adopt Liberty groups, which would help to create positive change.

There are still plenty of ways that you can be involved in creating positive change in the weeks to come this spring. Several city-wide cleanups are scheduled from March through June 2024, as well as several neighborhood and street cleanups. Keep Liberty Beautiful provides all the cleanup supplies (garbage bags, safety vests, work gloves, and even litter reachers) and water for these cleanups.

Our local cities partner with us by providing picnics for volunteers after the cleanups in appreciation of their efforts. We also provide official Keep Liberty Beautiful T-shirts for all registered volunteers. To register your group or neighborhood for a cleanup, visit our website, www.keeplibertybeautiful. org, for more information. You can also find information on our Facebook page, Keep Liberty Beautiful, for the cleanups and information on our Annual Earth Day Celebration, which is on Friday, April 19.

Keep Liberty Beautiful is here to help keep our community clean, green, and beautiful. You can contact our office at (912) 880-4888 or email klcb@libertycountyga. com. When we all come together to do things like planting trees and helping to stop litter, we can help clean our air and water.

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