The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper hosted its 11th annual Sweep the Hooch event yesterday with an additional headwaters region clean up site at the Gainesville Marina.
Mallory Pendleton, Headwaters Outreach Manager for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, said that the additional site made a total of eight clean up sites in the headwaters region. This region ranges from the start of the river in the Chattahoochee National Forest to Lake Lanier. Clean up sites in this region ranged from as far north as the Soque River in Clarkesville to four sites in the Gainesville area.
"Gainesville Marina was our only new site for this year, the other sites that participate they have pretty much done it for a good handful of years, which is really exciting to have an ongoing partnership with all of these different partners," said Pendleton.
Each year, volunteers descend on sites throughout the state to remove trash from the Chattahoochee River and its surrounding tributaries. Pendleton said that approximately 1,100 volunteers throughout the state had signed up for this year's event; about 200 of those volunteers were located in the headwaters region.
Pendleton said that part of the focus for this year's event was to remove large items from Lake Lanier.
"I'm referring to the big pieces of plastic and styrofoam that have been discarded from docks," said Pendleton. "That is definitely some stuff that I was seeing a lot of today that came out of the lake, which is really, really good."
Pendleton added that having clean up sites in the headwaters region helps prevent trash from floating downriver.
"Every little piece of trash makes such a huge difference," said Pendleton. "It's so important to try to do the best we can in our area to prevent anything from continuing downstream...rivers always flow downstream and we're always trying to minimize that impact to our downstream neighbors."
Pendleton said numbers for the amount of trash collected from this year's event will be available early this week. In the meantime, she is grateful for site leaders and volunteers who came out to make a difference.
"Without them we would not be able to do the event at all, so it's really great to see the community come together," said Pendleton.