SIDNEY — Volunteers gathered at Custenborder Shelter Friday morning to begin the 2019 Great Miami River Clean Sweep.
Among the first to arrive were brothers Dustin and Scott Mahrt. They’ve been participating in the Clean Sweep together for years after initially becoming involved for a free day canoeing. The day isn’t easy, though.
“The tires are the most work,” Dustin said.
The weight of the sediment that collects inside tires dumped into the river makes them hard to remove and can be enough to sink the canoe. Dustin’s method involves cutting a hole in the side and shaking the dirt loose to remove the tires.
On average, about 3,000 pounds of trash is collected every year. While the volunteers share the satisfaction of clearing literal tons of trash from the river, they would be happier if the weight was lower.
“If we don’t find a lot, hopefully that means people aren’t dumping stuff in the river,” said organizer Brent Bruggeman.
Longtime volunteer Mark Harrod agreed. He’s been doing his part to clean the river for more than 15 years.
“In some ways, it’s disappointing that year after year we fill canoes full of garbage,” Harrod said.
Despite this, he said it’s still rewarding knowing that they’re keeping the waste from flowing farther into the Ohio River and the Gulf of Mexico.
Since 2003 the Great Miami River Clean Sweep has removed more than 1,000,000 pounds of trash from the Great Miami River. Volunteers hope that one day the pollution will be reduced and the clean sweep will become unnecessary. Until then, the volunteers will come from around the county year after year to fight back the continual waves of garbage. The hard work they put in early Friday morning shouldn’t be necessary, but they humbly do their part.
The writer is a summer intern with the Sidney Daily News.