The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission is seeking volunteers to help clear trash and debris from the shores of the Ohio River on Saturday morning as part of River Sweep 2012.
Thousands of volunteers are expected to turn out for the annual riverbank cleanup event, which covers the entire length of the Ohio River - or more than 3,000 miles of shoreline between Pittsburgh and Cairo, Ill. River Sweep encompasses six states and is the largest environmental event of its kind, according to project director Jeanne Ison.
The purpose of River Sweep is to draw attention to the existing litter problem and to help rectify the situation by physically removing litter through a volunteer effort, fostering an attitude of wise stewardship practices toward natural resources and enhancing water quality and wildlife potential.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission Project Director Jeanne Ison and Eriks Janelsins, director of the Oglebay Institute Schrader Environmental Center, make plans for River Sweep 2012, set for Saturday.
"The Ohio River Sweep is very important because for a few hours on one day, volunteers can help make a difference in the appearance of this great natural resource," said Ison. "The sweep has grown so much in the past few years we've been able to expand the project to tributaries and feeder streams of the Ohio River.
"People actually come out on the day of the event and help us pick up trash and debris along the shoreline," said Ison. "This is such a great natural resource. It provides drinking water to millions of people, it's a recreational resource, it's used by so many for barge transportation and everything like that. ... It's important that we get people back to the river, realize what a great resource it is and actually clean it."
Ison, said anyone wanting to volunteer for the event can call 800-359-3977 for site locations and county coordinators in their area or visit www.orsanco.org and click on River Sweep. All volunteers will receive a free T-shirt.
"It's a great family-oriented event because you can bring your kids down for the day on the shoreline and help clean up. It teaches them about the environment, and you can actually see what you accomplished when it's over," she added.
While more than 21,000 people turned out across six states in 2011, Ison said hundreds of volunteers turned out for the event locally. Those volunteering in Ohio County should meet near the river in front of WesBanco Arena at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Other sponsoring agencies include the West Virginia Make it Shine Program, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Illinois EPA and the Kentucky River Authority.