Empty water bottles and aluminum cans, torn candy wrappers, dirty napkins and crushed cigarette butts. Each of these items, and more, crowd and pollute Denton’s storm drains and drainage ditches. Hundreds of people of all ages, in the Denton area and beyond, are working to change this.
The city of Denton’s annual Stream Clean event was held Saturday morning at nine locations with about 600 registered volunteers.
Locations included Camp Copass, four sites along Pecan Creek, behind Movie Tavern, along Mayhill Road and Woodrow Lane, and Carl Young Sr. Park. Bags, gloves and trash pickers were provided to make the dirty job a little easier.
“Typically, we remove thousands of pounds of garbage from the waterways,” said Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Luxton. “Last year, volunteers gathered almost two tons of debris.”
Litter that enters the storm drains often makes its way to lakes, streams and rivers. Most of the trash, if uncollected, would enter Lewisville Lake, one of Denton’s main sources of drinking water.
Ibrahim Yillah, who is originally from Sierra Leone, said this cleanup is very personal to him because access to clean water can be difficult for some areas in the world.
“I care about the health of the community,” said Yillah, a student at North Central Texas College. “Water is one of the main things that supports basic life. If you don’t have clean water, you can never get a healthy environment. There are some communities that I’ve come across, and even from my hometown, they don’t have clean water. So this is very, very important.”
Volunteers were able to fill dozens of trash bags to their breaking point with debris and recyclables. Separate piles of up to 40 trash bags per pile sat along the coast. The total weight of all the collected trash will be announced Monday afternoon.
“We have a lot of small stuff like water bottles and coffee cups, what people might throw out a window,” said Katherine Barnett, sustainability and customer initiatives manager. We also have large items that are from illegal dumping. I think we picked up as much as last year, if not more.”
Items such as bicycles, trampolines, above ground swimming pools and skateboard ramps were amongst the most unusual items found in previous years. This year, a sand-dusted boat liner took the crown.