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Volunteers to tackle trash in Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission River Sweep

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:46 a.m.

In the more than two decades Betsy Mallison has been organizing the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission River Sweep, she says volunteers have scooped tons of odd castoffs from the watershed — literally, tons.

“This is our 24th year,” Mallison said. “In that time, we've cleaned up enough furniture to outfit a full house and enough auto parts to almost build a car.

“We've found mannequins, thousands of tires, anything you can think of.”

Mallison said teams around the Alle-Kiski Valley and across five other states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia — will work tirelessly on Saturday to clean litter and debris in the Ohio River watershed, including the Allegheny River.

According to the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, more than 18,000 volunteers are expected to clear 7,000 tons of litter and debris from the waterways.

“The rivers provide water for a lot of our area,” Mallison said. “We want to protect our natural water sources. This is a great way to get people involved in helping to protect them.”

Mallison said that crews will work at the Roston Boat Launch in Manor, Rivers Edge Canoe and Kayak launch in West Leechburg and the Cowanshannock Creek Boat Launch in Rayburn.

Members of Natrona Comes Together usually take part in the activities, but Mallison said members of the group held their cleanup last weekend. Mallison said that normally, a cleanup takes place in Lower Burrell, but not this year.

Dennis Hawley, president of Crooked Creek Watershed Association, will lead the cleanups in Manor and Rayburn.

“What's nice is ORSANCO provides a dumpster so we have somewhere to put the garbage,” Hawley said. “Normally at something like this, groups have to find ways to dispose of what they remove.”

Hawley said cleaner rivers tend to stay clean longer.

“I've been doing this for 15 years,” he said. “When people see less garbage, they're less inclined to throw their garbage there.”

Hawley said he expects to have about a dozen or more volunteers at each of the cleanups he leads.

“The more the better,” Hawley said. “Sometimes we'll find campers and just recruit them to help us out.”

Mallison said volunteers are welcome to just show up.

“Just wear sturdy shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and maybe bring your favorite pair of gloves,” she said. “We'll take care of the rest.

“And, all volunteers get a T-shirt. They're really cute this year.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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