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March 2nd, 2015

A Quarterly Publication of Rivers Alive

 
Thank You for a Successful 2014 Cleanup Year!

In 2014, Rivers Alive organizers and volunteers around the state made a great impact on the health of our streams! Over 275 cleanup events joining together more than 28,000 volunteers cleaned nearly 700,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from our waterways!

On the right, you can see the top 5 items collected based on your final tallies. This data paints an important picture of what is being found along our streams, rivers, beaches and lakes and provides an idea of where the trash is coming from.

As you can probably tell, these numbers don’t show the whole picture. It doesn’t quite add up. Only 19,000 plastic bottles were removed by 28,000 volunteers, yet we saw volunteers with bags full of plastic bottles! This year, we hope to encourage all volunteers to take the time to record what they are picking up. Although the total poundage being cleared from our waterways is impressive, the details are what really drive it home for many new and returning volunteers. That cigarette being thrown out a car window, the candy bar wrapper blown off the picnic table, the water bottle left on the bench at the park; It only takes a little storm for those to wash down the storm drain and out to our waterways. Our new tally cards line up exactly with the online tally entry, so, now more than ever there is no excuse for not capturing cleanup numbers! Stay tuned for more information as we make capturing good data a big part of the 2015 campaign.

Final chance to submit 2014 data
If you haven't yet returned to enter your 2014 final cleanup tallies, please sign back in to your account so we can have a full picture of our cumulative efforts around the state! The last day to enter 2014 final cleanup tallies is Monday, March 9th. Rivers Alive award winners are determined based on the information you submit in your final tally, so provide as much detail as possible!

If you have t-shirts left over after your cleanup event, please return them to the Rivers Alive state office so we can distribute them to other organizers who can use them for their events! Our address is 2 MLK Jr. Dr. SW, Suite 1462 East, Atlanta, GA 30334. If you have any questions, you can always reach us at RiversAlive@gaepd.org or 404-651-8513.

Save the Date: Rivers Alive Awards Ceremony and Luncheon April 30th

The 2014 awards ceremony and luncheon is just around the corner, and we hope to see you there! 

Be sure to mark your Calendar: 
Thursday, April 30th, 2015 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Venue:
Park Tavern
500 10th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

 
The event will include lunch, the awards ceremony, time to talk with other RA organizers around the state, and a silent auction. All donations will support 2015 Rivers Alive activities. If you have any items or business services that you’d like to donate to the silent auction, please let us know. Possibilities include art, entertainment, sports tickets or equpment, crafts, leisure, travel, anything you think someone would enjoy!
 
Space is limited to 100, so be sure to RSVP ASAP to RiversAlive@gaepd.org or 404-651-8513!
 
Remember, award winners will be selected based on 2014 cleanup data submitted at www.RiversAlive.org. If you would like to be considered for an award, it’s not too late! Just log on to your registration page to update or edit your cleanup data. Don't forget to upload pictures and list any interesting or unusual items found at your cleanup. Contact our office if you have any questions. The last day to enter 2014 final cleanup tallies is Monday, March 9th.
 

Sponsor Highlight: NewFields



NewFields is proud to be partners with Rivers Alive and all their volunteers. Over the past 16 years, Rivers Alive has performed the important task of cleaning up over 26,000 miles of Georgia’s rivers and waterways. NewFields looks forward to a long term partnership with Rivers Alive as they continue to protect our aquatic environment.
 


You're Invited to Georgia Adopt-A-Stream's annual conference, Confluence! 


 
Register Here!
Registration Deadline is March 6th, 2015 at 12 pm EST.
There will not be any on-site registrations
 
Registration for Confluence is $30 ($20 for students with ID) and includes the Friday night dinner and social, lunch on Saturday and a conference t-shirt! Session topics include Water Trails in Georgia, Buffers and Stream Ecology, Invasive Plants, 319 Projects and Case Studies, and Protecting Georgia's Waters. Friday and Saturday include many opportunities to network with water professionals. We hope you will join us for a wonderful, water-filled conference! More information including the conference agenda and session descriptions can be found on Georgia Adopt-A-Stream's Confluence page.
 
First Annual Water Appreciation Day May 2nd, 2015

On May 2nd,  Rivers Alive is partnering with the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) in celebrating the first annual Water Appreciation Day.  We are encouraging all Rivers Alive organizers and partners to plan a cleanup or water celebration event on this day.  A limited of number of special shirts will be made available to participating groups, so register your event through the Rivers Alive website to qualify, at www.RiversAlive.com.  We believe by participating in this spring cleanup, it will help get people thinking about protecting streams and lakes year round, and will help us get Georgia volunteers excited about the hundreds of cleanups we’ll be promoting during the fall.  In conjunction with the May 2 cleanups, there will also be a No Water, No Beer celebration at the Sweetwater Brewery during the evening.  See the write up below and the Water Appreciation Day flyer for more information and register for No Water, No Beer at http://www.gawwa.org/nwnb2015
No Water No Beer Festival: May 2, 2015

We all know that clean Water is one of our planet’s most valuable resources.  It is critical to everything that we do. The food we eat, the electricity that powers our homes, and the cities and towns in which we live are all highly dependent upon having reliable sources of clean water. Even the beer that we drink is 90% water.  
Sadly, more than 780 million people in this world do not have access to clean water. To help show the importance of water and the fact that with No Water there would be No Beer, the Georgia Section of AWWA is hosting a new event. The inaugural No Water, No Beer Festival will be held at Sweetwater Brewery on Saturday May 2nd from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Bring your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to kick off Drinking Water Week with a celebration of the importance of clean water. The event will include delicious food, great music, and some of the best beer in the Southeast.The proceeds from this event will help Water for People in their quest to provide clean water to people in developing countries as well as help Rivers Alive in efforts to keep our water supply clean right here in Georgia. 

Go to www.gawwa.org/NWNB2015 for more information and to register for this event.  


Interview with Yvette Wise of the Town of Braselton!

I had been interested in the AAS programs for a few years and had been certified several times before I took the plunge to initiate our programs with the Town of Braselton! I began AAS chemical monitoring the Mulberry River (head waters of the Oconee river basin) in 2011, then in 2012 expanded to start a Rivers Alive program.  A good friend and former erosion control inspector, Roy McHaney, shares my compassion for protecting State waters. We teamed up with Matt Treeter of Barrow County's' Storm Water Department to organize and host our first Rivers Alive event. It was a great success! I was very nervous about the planning and logistics of it all, but with the help and support of these guys it all falls into place every time!  We have had 5 great Rivers Alive events with involvement from people in all age groups and from several surrounding counties.
 
I think one of the highlights of our success is teaming up with groups like 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, students and civic groups like the Rotary Club. My own son has participated in every Rivers Alive event and brings more friends every time to join in the effort. The fact that we always provide pizza, Mayfield ice cream and door prizes after the cleanup seems to be especially fun for the kids!  I love the get together afterwards when people share their stories about what they found, adventures they had etc. I think it’s important to get people outdoors and connect with the environment. We have had many door prizes donated that we give away as small tokens of appreciation for our volunteers. Local businesses have been very supportive to assist with cost of lunch, snacks, drinks and supplies.
 
As the Environmental Specialist for the Town of Braselton, my main scope of duty was originally based around erosion control and enforcement of the regulations. Witnessing first-hand how sediment can adversely impact streams and the river, I realized the importance of raising awareness about why water quality is so important. My background in wildlife management allows me to consider how habitats are being impacted when I see an erosion violation; I often use that opportunity to explain how that sediment is affecting macros in the streams. Erosion Control is not exactly a “fun job” and I’m often referred to as the ‘dirt police,” so I had to incorporate something positive into my duties. Therefore, I began Adopt-A-Stream and Rivers Alive programs, in a sense to add some “fun” to my job! Somewhat ironically, our Rivers Alive program has gained strong support from many of the builders and developers (whom know I won’t hesitate to enforce Erosion and Sediment Control regulations). I believe they realize how passionate I am about water quality and they make the connection that they, too, play an important role in keeping our waterways clean.
 
A cleanup success story!
Prior to the last RA event, I was scouting for new areas to cleanup. I kept noticing an area across the street from a large distribution center where employees would take breaks to smoke. I stopped to take a closer look because I noticed trash in the bushes along the right of way. I was horrified to see hundreds of cigarette butts, wrappers, and soda cans all over the roadway and right of way areas. What was most disturbing was the curb line inlets were practically clogged with butts. And, it drains directly to a tributary stream of Mulberry River! We cleaned up the area and estimated that over 1000 cigarette butts were removed from this site alone. After the event, I contacted a corporate representative with our results and photos. Within a few weeks the company had designated a smoking/break area on their property with trash and cigarette receptacles, thus eliminating a problem site! This simple act of raising awareness within that company made a huge impact on our local watershed. The employees probably didn’t realize that their cigarette butts would end up in the stream. If more people understood how connected we all are to the waterways, maybe we could change behaviors in more places.
 

Bridgestone Americas' Free Tire Pickup

Bridgestone Americas' Tires 4ward program began in 2012 with the mission of recycling one used tire for every one tire sold. Along with recycling tires at their company-owned stores they also provide tire recycling services to organized community cleanups around the nation. A request form must be submitted at least a month before the cleanup which includes contact information, cleanup location and estimates of how many tires may be picked up and how many volunteers will attend the cleanup.

On October 24th, 2014, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division had an agency cleanup along Proctor Creek in Atlanta. From some initial scouting of the area, we saw some tires thrown down a hill by the bridge next to the creek, maybe 40 or 50 tires. On the day of the cleanup, we split into two teams. About 30 people headed down to the creek and the other 15 teamed up to tackle the pile of tires next to the bridge. The 15 members of the tire cleanup team were excited for this "workout" as we walked down the road to the tires. Fast forward about an hour later - the tire team had stacked up at least 200 tires to line the road by the bridge. The farther we went down the hill the more tires could be seen hiding beneath thick brush and overgrown vines. When all was said and done, 436 tires were lined up along the road!

We really put Bridgestone's Tires 4ward program to the test! Understandably, they took a little longer than asked to removed the "50 or so" tires from the side of the road, but with a couple extra calls and emails the tires were eventually removed and off to be recycled for another purpose. We recommend Bridgestone's Free Tire Pickup for your local cleanups if you see that there may be a number of tires in your cleanup area. The request form can be found on the Rivers Alive homepage and they ask for at least a month's notice. Be sure to follow up with them until the tires are removed!
 

A Big Thanks to All of our 2014 Sponsors for Your Support of our Waterway Cleanup Program!

2014 Major Corporate Sponsors

Georgia Natural Resources Foundation  |
  Georgia Power 

 Coca-Cola Company  |  Oglethorpe Power  

NewFields |  Golder Associates | Jacobs Engineering Group

 Sutherland  | Alston+Bird  | McKenna Long & Aldridge 

EPS  |  Enterprise Holdings Foundation  |  Jones Day


Rivers Alive is a program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Outreach Program.

www.RiversAlive.org        404-463-1511       riversalive@gaepd.org

The preparation of this newsletter was financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1987, as amended.