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Down by the River

A one-day push to clean up the tons of crap that gets dumped into the mighty Connecticut

Adam Bulger

October 02, 2008

The numbers for the annual Source to Sea Clean-Up are staggering, but they don't tell the whole story. In 2007, over 400 tons of trash, tires, appliances and discarded construction material were removed from the waters and shoreline of the Connecticut River during the one-day clean-up. Among the materials comprising that 400 tons were 30 chairs and couches, 29 beds and mattresses, 29 TVs and VCRs, 3 grills and 19 vacuum cleaners.

"You could pretty much furnish a home from what we got out of the river," joked Christine Luis-Schultz, outreach director for the Connecticut River Watershed Council.

And if you ever needed to get out of your river-garbage-furnished house, you could probably make use of the 12 car batteries, 50 bicycles, 63 shopping carts and 594 tires found in the river last year.

According to Megan Hearne, the steward of the Connecticut part of the river, past clean-ups have had some other less-pleasant surprises. "A couple years ago in Glastonbury, some scouts reported they found a bunch of needles," Hearne said.

Since 1997, the Connecticut River Watershed Council has led groups of volunteers on the annual Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut river in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. With equipment ranging from boats and diving suits to simple trash bags and gloves, hundreds of volunteers comb the waters and shores of the river and its tributaries. Last year, over 2,000 people participated for the largest-ever clean-up. This year, on Saturday, Oct. 4, they hope to get even more people involved.

Currently, there are portions of the 410-mile river that do not meet federal criteria for safe fishing, swimming and boating. During stormy weather, the parts of the river that run through Holyoke, Springfield and Chicopee, Mass., were found to have bacterial levels almost 50 times the level considered safe for recreational use. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and other sources are currently funding a $1.4 million project called the Tri-State Watershed Initiative to Improve the Connecticut River.

Physical trash and other waste tends to accumulate most in waters that are hidden from everyday sight. "It's not in the public eye, so it gets viewed as a dumping ground more than other places," Hearne said.

Several groups are scouring Hartford's river shore. The Trinity College Green Campus Group are scrubbing sections of the Park River, a group of contributors to a Hartford-centric blog (beatbikeblog.blogspot.com) are tackling the confluence of the Park and Connecticut rivers, and the Park River Watershed Revitalization Initiative are working in the north part of the Park River.

Brendan Mahoney, a blogger for beatbikeblog, said, "The spot that I picked is kind of a forgotten spot because it's between Charter Oak Landing and Riverside Park,"

Go to the Connecticut River Web site for more information, including a comprehensive list of all groups participating in the cleanup.

We used to cut those plastic rings six-packs came in (you know, so the ducks didn't drown), but they stopped making six-packs. So. What do you do?

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Advocate.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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