Keeping the Flint Alive

Published 8:25 am Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bainbridge High School Air Force ROTC cadets helped clean up at a past Rivers Alive event.

This Saturday, Oct. 29, is the new date for cleaning the Decatur County portion of the Flint River, as part of the state-wide annual “Rivers Alive” volunteer waterway cleanup project.

Keep Decatur County Beautiful is the coordinating agency for the local cleanup and has been overseeing the project for 12 years. KDCB Executive Director Suzanne Brandt is back on the job this week after experiencing a broken hip, which postponed the cleanup from the original date of October 8.

Brandt is very pleased and thankful for the continued support from volunteers, many of whom who were scheduled for the earlier date. She said they have assured her, “Whenever you are going to do it, we’ll be there.”

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Many people believe that businesses and industries are responsible for most of the water pollution in Georgia, Brandt said. However, the opposite is true. Since the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972, industrial and commercial dumping (“point sources” of pollution) has been strictly regulated, with enforced standards for environmental impact.

Far more extensive and harder to control is what is known as “nonpoint source” pollution, Brandt said. Nonpoint source means pollution that comes from all over, not just a single pipe or drain. Rainwater runs across the surface of a road, carrying brake dust and motor oil into the nearest stream. Sprinklers wash lawn fertilizer into the drains, where it joins soapy water from washing cars on its way to the storm drain and the river. Candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and drink containers are carried in by wind or water, or are deposited directly on the streambank alongside unwanted cars and appliances.

All of this pollution takes a toll. Litter fills stream channels, chokes municipal and industrial intakes, injures wildlife, and endangers human swimmers and boaters. Chemicals may kill wildlife immediately, or they may be stored in plant and animal tissues and pose a threat to higher consumers such as birds and humans. Soil and sediment, arguably the greatest source of water pollution in Georgia, clog the gills of aquatic organisms and destroy habitat.

Many groups from schools, churches, service clubs, businesses and other community organizations, as well as individuals devote one Saturday morning a year to help clean and preserve the pristine beauty of the Flint.

Check-in time is set for 8 a.m. at the Earle May Boat Basin at the pavilion next to the Chamber of Commerce. At that time volunteers will be given official T-shirts and supplies and assigned a location.

“The workers usually stop about noon,” Brandt said.

All workers are advised to wear closed toed shoes and protective clothing.

Some veterans of this event prefer to go straight to their location Saturday morning, said Brandt. Those wishing to by-pass the registration can contact the office prior to Saturday to receive instructions, supplies and assignments.

Volunteers will clean all landings and river banks along Newton Road especially the Red Bluffs area and some of the Spring Creek Road areas. The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office will have boats in the water to assist with in-water cleanups.

Call or e-mail to volunteer — (229) 246-3611, or