The annual Rivers Alive Etowah River cleanup will take place at Boling Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is sponsored by various local organizations, including the Upper Etowah River Alliance, Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority, Cherokee County Stormwater Management, Cherokee County School District, the city of Canton and Waste Management.
Last year, Lori Forrester, environmental affairs specialist with CCWSA, said over 100 participants helped clean up the river, and she is expecting even more this year.
Additionally, this is the first year the event will have a Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad.
Forrester said participants coming to clean up can also do their part by keeping pharmaceuticals out of the water through returning old or unused medications.
“Each year, 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals are flushed or taken to a landfill,” Forrester said. “It shows back up in the surface water, wastewater plants, drinking water plants, and in our system — it’s not removed.”
Forrester said studies have shown the pharmaceuticals in water are not affecting the health of people, but it’s important to help reduce the dumping of medications before it becomes a public health issue.
CMANS Agent Nathan Luca said the agency, led by CMANS Cmdr. Phil Price, began participating in the national drug take back initiative three years ago.
“We give people the opportunity to get rid of unused or expired controlled substances that they would otherwise have in their house,” Luca said.
Luca said those who can’t attend Saturday’s event can also visit the Holly Springs, Canton and Woodstock city halls where there are prescription drug drop boxes that CMANS agents check year-round.
Also, those wishing to participate in the World Water Monitoring Challenge can ask Forrester upon arrival if they can do so on Saturday.
Forrester said the challenge is part of a global water quality monitoring initiative where people go out to rivers and do basic water tests, including pH and temperature tests, to gather data about water quality throughout the world.
“Adding to the global database from Cherokee gives just a snapshot of local water quality,” Forrester said.
At www.worldwatermonitoringday.org, photographs and information all of the sampling spots can be viewed to compare water quality throughout the world.
As for the clean-up day, Forrester said those willing to help should also be willing to get dirty.
“Last year, we found a kids’ swimming pool,” Forrester said. “You just never know what you’re going to pull out of the river or from around the river.”
Forrester said the clean-up has loyal participants throughout the last several years, including members of the Canton Rotary Club and environmental clubs from local high schools including Cherokee, Woodstock and ACE Academy.
Forrester recommended participants wear closed-toed shoes or boots, protective clothing including long sleeves and pants, hats, sunglasses and bug repellant. Forrester said heavy gloves are encouraged for pulling and carrying large objects and protection from sharp objects, but gloves will be provided.
Breakfast items, snacks and water will be provided prior to the event. After the clean-up, a lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks will be provided for all volunteers.
Rivers Alive 2012 T-shirts and other Upper Etowah River Alliance items will be available for sale.
For more information, contact Lori Forrester at (770) 479-6554 or firstname.lastname@example.org