Renew Our Rivers clean-up targets coastal waterways

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of volunteers removed boat loads of debris from the Tchoutacabouffa River on Wednesday.

Mississippi Power Company kicked off its annual Renew Our Rivers clean-up. The annual effort targets several South Mississippi waterways.

Volunteers combed through the marsh grasses along the Tchoutacabouffa River. They spent much of the day collecting an odd assortment of debris.

"A TV.  We found a door, a couple of tires, potted plant. And we've got about seven or eight bags of trash," said volunteer Nathan Hill.

"It's great to clean up the coast. Get it looking good after Katrina and everything," said Hill.

Alabama Power crews manned a specialized boat with a crane. It can more easily remove heavy debris from the mud and muck along the riverbank.

"Right now we've got one refrigerator and quite a bit of lawn chairs. Anytime you pick it up and don't throw it out, that's making a difference to me. And I think that's great," said Pat Hedden with Mississippi Power.

Renew Our Rivers has made a positive difference four years running, helping clean waterways throughout the Southern Company's service area.

"We're actually seeing a steady decline in the debris that we're collecting. We feel like that means that we're getting up what Katrina left behind and also that message is strong: Let's take care of our coast that we all love so much," said Cindy Duval, a spokesperson for Mississippi Power.

Benny McCoy operates a tour boat on the Pascagoula River. He says cleaner waterways are good for everyone.

"It just makes it more enjoyable when you look out and don't see the trash. And especially if you've got a business that depends on tourism, and makes a pristine river system," said McCoy.

"And it's definitely made a difference. We're picking up a lot less big items. There's still a lot of floatables: bottles, cans, stuff like that coming in," said Mike Clelland with Alabama Power Company.

Renew Our Rivers has collected nearly 100 tons of debris since the program began.

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