An Aug. 28 river cleanup on the banks of the Etowah River brought out about 75 volunteers to focus efforts on an illegal dump site off of Macedonia Road.
The result was more than a ton and a half of garbage being hauled off with help from Keep Bartow Beautiful, Coosa River Basin Initiative, Bartow County employee volunteers and concerned community members as well as students from Berry College, Georgia Highlands College and Shorter University.
Heading up coordination efforts for this cleanup was KBB intern and recent University of Georgia graduate Jamie McKenzie. Summing up the extent of conditions upon their arrival, McKenzie described the site as it was.
"The site had been used as an illegal dumping site for construction materials, there were old carpets on the site, shingles, boards, nails. There were entire bags of trash, mattresses, there were actually a couple toilets on the site. There was probably enough carpet to furnish a small home. There was a truck bed, some tin roofing -- pretty much you name it, it was out there," McKenzie said adding that contaminates including motor oil and propane were also found.
All of this debris and trash was concentrated in a small area just steps from the river posing a threat to the ecological habitat contained in and around the water source.
Breaking down the amounts gathered at the cleanup, McKenzie relayed the tallies from volunteer efforts.
Seventy bags of recycling, 80 bags of trash and 30 tires were collected from the land in addition to 2,200 pounds of construction waste exhumed by skid-steer loaders compliments of Bartow County Parks and Recreation.
The trash collected was inspected for evidence by Code Enforcement Officer Ken Ford before being hauled off by Bartow County Solid Waste.
McKenzie spoke to the hard work performed by volunteers emphasizing the change that was accomplished as they enthusiastically confronted the dump site removing an estimated 85 percent to 90 percent of the garbage.
"[The site] looked terrible, like I said there were piles of tires, piles of shingles and carpet, and just broken glass and bottles everywhere. And after we got done with the clean up you could walk through and you really would have no idea that this was an illegal dumping site. The volunteers worked really hard, they got out there, they were really motivated. A lot of them really enjoyed what they did and it was a big success, it went really well," McKenzie said.
CRBI worked closely with KBB for the completion of this event in hopes of working towards establishing a canoe/kayak put-in and take-out with parking. Bartow County has expressed interest in obtaining lands for the purpose of improving public access to the Etowah River. To help prevent more illegal dumping, CRBI will soon be placing barricades on the property.
Improving access on the stretch of Etowah River from Lake Allattoona to Rome is a main priority of CRBI in order to create a 180-mile "blue trail" from Dawsonville to Rome increasing public use and knowledge of the river. This effort is being done in part with the school of thought that with more public use and enjoyment of the resource, more will stand up to protect it when the time comes for development and growth.