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Front Page - Friday, October 4, 2019

Tennessee River Rescue to spruce up waterways across three counties

Tennessee Aquarium employees clean up the banks of the Tennessee River near downtown Chattanooga. - Photograph provided

Whether they’re burbling brooks, creeping creeks or the serpentine sprawl of the Tennessee River itself, the lacework of waterways in Southeast Tennessee teems with life and provides drinking water to more than 4 million people.

Despite their importance to native animals and as a natural resource, these same waters are also cluttered with occupants of a less-savory sort, from waylaid water bottles and forgotten furniture to abandoned appliances.

Since 1988, teams of citizens have joined forces each October for a cleaning blitz in the hopes of reversing course on the degradation of the Tennessee River and its tributaries. This year, advocates for a cleaner river will take part in the annual Tennessee River Rescue on Saturday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

“We use water for a lot of things, so it’s important to keep it clean,” says Hayley Wise, watershed coordinator at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. “Ultimately, the more trash that’s in our water, the more it costs, the longer it takes and the more difficult it is to treat before it gets to us.”

The River Rescue encompasses 17 zones throughout Hamilton, Bradley and Marion counties. Cleanup locations are listed at tennesseeriverrescue.org.

Those interested in participating do not need to pre-register but can instead report to the zone captains listed on the website the day of the cleanup. Large groups are encouraged to contact the zone leader at their desired location before arrival.

Participants are encouraged to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty and bring a reusable water bottle. (Water coolers will be available at most locations.) Cleanup equipment, including gloves, refuse bags and trash pickers, will be provided.

“These cleanups don’t remove everything from the river, but they help,” Wise says. “Seeing the trash firsthand also brings awareness to the problem. That can dramatically change how people think about the river and its impact on them.”

Source: Tennessee Aquarium