Ridding waterways of waste

Exasperated by sullied waterways, hundreds of volunteers plan to set off from local shores in boats and canoes over the next month to cleanup Lay Lake and the Cahaba River.

Judy Jones, of the Lay Lake Home Owners and Boat Owners Association, said more than 200 volunteers are expected to converge this Saturday to remove litter from that 48–mile waterway.

“The heavy rains we’ve had have washed trash on the roadsides into the lake. People don’t think about that when they throw things out the window of their car,” Jones said.

Jones began taking part in the Lay Lake cleanup 11 years ago.

“When we originally started, we were cleaning things up that had been there for years,” she said.

Volunteers purged the lake of 13 tons of garbage in 2009.

Jones expects to collect more this year. She doesn’t expect to dredge out old TVs and microwaves as they have in the past, but she does expect to discover bags worth of plastic bottles and paper food wrappers.

Home and boat owners on Lay Lake obviously enjoy the beauty of the area and want to keep it pristine, Jones said, but they also want to prevent safety concerns.

She said the association just recently pulled to abandoned boats out of the water, one upturned.

“Could you imagine if you were traveling down the lake in your boat near dark and you hit even part of the boat? That could be very dangerous as could hitting an old sofa thrown in the water – and we’ve found all of that before,” Jones said.

Volunteers for the Lay Lake event will meet at Beeswax public boat launch at 8 a.m. April 24.

Another cleanup, this time of the Cahaba River, will take place May 15.

The Alabama Central District Civitans plan to take volunteers out from Buck Creek Park in Helena around 8 a.m. Registration begins at 7 a.m.

The Cahaba, the longest free-flowing river in Alabama, is the principal supply of drinking water for much of the Jefferson and Shelby Counties.

The Civitans provide canoes, paddles and lifejackets while volunteers provide man-hours. The teams of volunteers paddling the river will pick up tires, bottles, balls, cans and other trash. Teams will also cleanup specific recreation areas along the river where such debris may have been left under the bridge itself.

This is the 16th year for the cleanup. Organizers plan to finish the event around noon with lunch for volunteers.

For more information, visit Cahabarivercleanup.