"Renew Our Rivers" project helps clean-up Pascagoula River

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The Pascagoula River is a little cleaner, thanks to the efforts of a program called "Renew Our Rivers."

Mississippi Power organized dozens of volunteers who hit the water early Wednesday morning with trash bags and pick-up tongs. Unfortunately, there's no shortage of debris along the scenic waterway.

Volunteers launched their boats shortly after sunrise. They enjoyed the beauty of the free flowing, scenic river on a clear October morning. But there's also an unwanted ugliness.

"We got stuff all over, downstream of this thing," said Flinda Hill, as she lowered her tongs to snag another empty bottle.

A log jam along the river bank offers fertile fishing for debris.

"The assignment is to just grab as much as possible and get it out of the river. Whether it's recreational debris, Katrina, Gustav debris. Doesn't matter. We just want it out of the river," Hill said.

Clean up crews snag the first refrigerator shortly after the pick up begins. Workers from Alabama Power load the water-logged appliance onto a work boat.

You might assume the frig is storm-related debris; but not necessarily.

"Unfortunately, the fact is if people have camps and house boats up the river and something quits working, it's sometimes easier to dump it than dispose of it," said Jeff Wilkinson.

Wilkinson enjoys frequent excursions on the Pascagoula River system. His personal concern about marine litter prompted him to found a group called "Coastal Rivers." Its primary mission is to help eliminate debris in and along our waterways.

"Through public awareness, hopefully, we can get people to change their practices when they're out boating, and we'll eventually reduce the amount that's out here," he said.

Organized clean-ups like "Renew Our Rivers" may already be making a difference.

"We've seen less trash today than we have in any of the years past," said Hill, "It's a very good thing."