Text By Michelle Basch, WTOP Radio, Photo by SCA
Litterbugs leave local rivers loaded with garbage, but the situation is improving with today's 21st annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.
More than 12,000 volunteers got down and dirty, helping with this year's cleanup at more than 400 sites in DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Richard Adamson, 16, of Silver Spring, is part of a group of about 90 volunteers that targeted Kingman and Heritage Islands along the Anacostia River near RFK Stadium.
"We're finding all sorts of stuff along this shore filled with mud and just caked into the ground," Adamson says. "Bottles, tires, all sorts of trash." He also found a mud-covered fire hose and what looks like a sneaker.
Volunteers wearing gloves loaded their finds into plastic bags. Orange bags are for recyclables. Blue bags are for trash that can't be recycled.
"People don't realize that when they're throwing trash on the ground, you're really throwing it in the river which then you're throwing it into the Chesapeake Bay which is where we get a lot of our seafood," says Amtchat Edwards, a member of the Student Conservation Association, which helped organize the event at this site.
"So ultimately you're throwing it on your plate," Edwards says.
One of the strangest finds of the day was an exercise bike.
Last year, volunteers removed more than 280 tons of trash from the watershed.
(Copyright 2008 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)