July 16, 2021, was an overcast day with chances of rain showers throughout the morning hours. But thankfully, the annual Clean Sweep of the Great Miami River Watershed was still able to take place with just a few brief, light, periods of rain occurring.
I had the pleasure of volunteering for this great effort, along with my son, Andrew, and my father, John, along the banks of The Great Miami River and the connecting Tawawa Creek in Shelby County Ohio.
The Clean Sweep is an annual volunteer event focused on removing trash and restoring the health of the Great Miami River. “This river cleanup is about much more than picking up trash. It’s a day for communities to demonstrate their desire for clean water and healthy rivers. It’s an opportunity to learn about our river, and it’s a time to come together with your families, your neighbors, your community, and your friends to accomplish something vital and worthy on behalf of our Great Miami River,” the organization states on its website.
History Of The Clean Sweep Of The Great Miami River Watershed
The first river cleaning efforts were started in 1986 when two Tri-County Sanitation workers noticed how bad the trash in and along the river was while they were pulling water samples. Stemming from those initial
clean up efforts, Tri-County Sanitation received great support from the Miami Conservancy District, several Dayton area hospitals, General Motors, and others, to help grow the annual event into what it is today - with ‘Clean Sweeps’ taking place from Indian Lake all the way down to the Ohio River.
“With the help of MCD having great records of sweeps from 1987 to 2005 and current data collected by sectional leaders from 2005 to present, it looks like the Clean Sweep of the Great Miami River Watershed has had a yearly estimate of 1250 volunteers pick up, drag out and lug over 850 tons of trash and tires out of the Great Miami River since '87. That is just shy of the weight of three fully-loaded Boeing 777-300 aircraft.” Read More About The Clean Sweep
Common ‘finds’ each year include tires, socks, shirts, flip-flops, cans, plastic bottles and plastic bags. Some of the more unique items found along the Shelby County routes this year include a refrigerator door, shopping carts, lawn furniture and a nearly
complete pie in a pie tin. Other items from years past include a riding lawn mower, a popped safe, an old ceramic sign and the skull cap from an adolescent boy believed to have come from the Adena Period of early people in Ohio.
While it is great to be able to help clean these items up from the waterways, it’s a bit disheartening to realize how many individuals disregard nature and our natural resources and habitats, by not disposing of litter and trash properly.
If you are interested in supporting future Clean Sweeps, bookmark and follow the event website for updates - and get ready to “Get wet...Get dirty...Get involved“!
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