By April O'Leary
This year has been challenging for a number of reasons. Historical flooding, postponed fall cleanups, lost docks, submerged vessels, police reports for our stolen kayak, trail camera installation due to illegal dumping, being shot at during a cleanup, and horrific fish kills all occurred on our waterways in 2018.
But the year also welcomed some exciting project highlights. We welcomed new Adopters, including the Cowen family! Their boys are so adorable and while cleaning up rusted metal from a nearby landing yelled, "We love helping the Riverkeepers!" We gained new volunteers, like Cindi and Shari who laughed when we proposed having a barbecue with the raw chicken and sausage we just pulled out of the river. We established new partnerships with the owners of River Island Adventure Tours to celebrate World Rivers Day. We implemented new projects like Grand Strand Strawless Summer with our good friends at Chirping Birds. We fed all our cleanup volunteers at our Spring Cleanup thanks to our friends at the Warehouse and we were invited to the State House to launch the Zero Tolerance for Litter campaign.
Reflecting back over the past year, we have had so many unexpected experiences that we could not have possibly predicted but there is one constant we can always depend on no matter where we go, who we paddle with, how many volunteers we have, or how high the river rises: there will always be mountain dew bottles, beer cans, liquor bottles, bait buckets, styrofoam to-go containers and plastic dip cans waiting for us. It is heart wrenching to know the only thing we can depend on is a never-ending stream of trash but until we do more to reduce our single-use habits and stop littering, it will always be a problem.
We are proud to be on the front lines removing waste from your waterways. The data reflects our commitment to clean water, to healthy rivers, to clean and safe boat landings, and to you. In 2018, 1,676 volunteers conducted 130 cleanups and collected 88,250 lbs of waste from the Intracoastal Waterway, Waccamaw, Pee Dee, Black and Lumber Rivers and surrounding beaches, representing $48,604 in donated wages. These volunteers provide enormous value to our community!
These cleanup efforts would not be possible without volunteers, sponsors, partnerships and financial support from our funders, including Waccamaw Community Foundation, Bunnelle Foundation, Palmetto Pride, and, of course, donors like you! Community awareness and education is the best way to reduce waste in your waterways so please share how Winyah Rivers is working on waste in your waterways.
Together, with dedicated stewards and financial support, we have achieved a tremendous amount tackling the trash in your drinking water. As we reflect on this year’s project accomplishments, we know we can depend on an endless stream of trash waiting for us in 2019 but can we depend on you? Support this effort...volunteer, adopt a landing, coordinate a cleanup, pick up litter as you go, reduce your use, don’t litter, and help us collect waste from our waterways by making a donation to Winyah Rivers.