GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In the seven years since the Renew Our Rivers Cleanup began, Mississippi Power officials say volunteers have cleansed more than 250 tons of trash and debris has been collected from our coastal waterways. On Wednesday, volunteers were out on the water.
Rick Berry works for Mississippi Power as a manager of land and water resources. He says people who carelessly toss trash into the water are hurting the environment and the wildlife.
"They pull rings from six-pack cans off of turtles' heads," said Berry. "So it definitely has an impact. It's swallowed by other marine species out there. They will die, wash up."
Volunteers spent Wednesday picking up debris around Gulfport Lake and Bayou Bernard.
"It's a great event for our employees to get out into local waterways across South Mississippi," said Jeff Shepard, Mississippi Power Spokesperson. "Really contribute by helping to cleanup some of the storm debris and some of the party debris that you see. Beer bottles and things like that."
"We've found parts of houses. We find concrete steps. We find tires and televisions. All kinds of things. It's one way that we can help take care of the environment," Shepard said.
It wasn't just Mississippi Power employees lending a hand.
Shepard said, "We have had tremendous community support from some of the groups like casinos, and local government agencies that want the environment to be improved."
Volunteers said they look forward to a time when their help is rarely needed.
"Don't litter," said Berry. "It's good for all of us. The marine animals, the nurseries back here for marine fisheries and the people that enjoy using these waterways as well."
Volunteers said they expect to pick up more debris this year than last because of Hurricane Isaac. The cleanup continues Thursday along the Pascagoula river.