Cleanups coming for local waterways

Volunteers will focus on Ocmulgee River, Bay Gall Creek

jgaines@macon.comOctober 10, 2012 

  • Cleaunup information

    To volunteer for the Ocmulgee Alive! cleanup or get more information, visit www.maconwater.org or contact Mark Wyzalek at (478) 464-5678 or visit ocmulgee_alive@maconwater.org. The required medical release and liability waiver are on the website.
    To volunteer for the Bay Gall Creek Rivers Alive Cleanup, call Keep Warner Robins Beautiful at (478) 929-7258.

For the eighth consecutive year, hundreds of volunteers will scour the banks of the Ocmulgee River for trash, joining other groups statewide in the Rivers Alive campaign to keep Georgia waterways clean.

The Macon Water Authority and co-organizers the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful are seeking volunteers for the Ocmulgee Alive! cleanup, which will run from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Saturday.

“Right now we have 326 volunteers,” said Mark Wyzalek, director of Laboratory-Environmental Compliance for the water authority. He has received more calls of interest, so he expects perhaps 375 people, breaking last year’s record of 345.

“It’s just rolling along really well,” Wyzalek said. “The community has really taken to it.”

Wyzalek said teams will work along the heritage trail, at the Ocmulgee National Monument, in Riverside Cemetery and Amerson River Park, a total of more than 3 miles.

Volunteers who aren’t assigned a location in advance can meet at 8:30 a.m. in Rotary Park on Riverside Drive near First Street for assignments. Workers should wear boots or sturdy shoes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and sunscreen. They also should bring heavy work gloves, insect repellent, drinking water and a tool to pick up trash. They’ll need to sign a medical release and liability waiver, according to a news release from water authority spokesman Chris Wood.

Pre-registered volunteers will get a free custom-designed T-shirt, he said.

Organizers scouted the riverbanks in advance for areas that particularly needed cleanup, and they assigned groups to those spots accordingly, Wood said. A large group of YKK USA employees will be busy at the Spring Street entrance to the heritage trail, he said.

High-traffic areas such as the trail and cemetery frontage are aesthetically important to keep clean, as well as environmentally important, Wood said.

YKK and Graphic Packaging International, last year’s major Ocmulgee Alive! sponsors, are returning. They’re joined this time by Coca-Cola Refreshments, Wood said.

Not many such events draw the same level of corporate help, Wyzalek said.

“These folks donate money and have employees come on out,” he said. “They know how important it is for our community. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts.”

Another river cleanup is scheduled in Warner Robins.

Keep Warner Robins Beautiful will hold its own Rivers Alive cleanup in two weeks, along Bay Gall Creek. Starting at 9 a.m. Oct. 27, volunteers will start work at Wellston Trail on Corder Road, according to the group’s news release.

“I think we are hoping that we have about 25 to 40 volunteers,” said Brooke Bennett, office assistant at Keep Warner Robins Beautiful. Records indicate that about 60 volunteers participated in the 2011 cleanup, she said.

So far this year, about 10 volunteers are committed from the group’s youth advisory board, so at least 15 more people are needed, Bennett said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.

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