Local News

Water Shortage a Gain for Big Sweep Effort

Posted October 6, 2007
Updated October 7, 2007

— Volunteers cleaned the edges of North Carolina waterways Saturday during the Big Sweep effort. 

"Coconuts, shin guards, soccer balls, fence posts" are just some of the things that fill the edges of waterways, Lake Crabtree Manager Drew Cade said.

When volunteers showed up Saturday for the annual Big Sweep, they noticed a difference from years past: Garbage normally hidden underwater had popped up. Volunteers had said earlier in the week that they expected a bigger haul this year, thanks to the low water levels.

"With the increased access we have with the lower water levels, we're going to get some things that aren't normally visible," Cade said.

"A lot of it does not decompose. Maybe it will over a millennium, but in the meantime it's harmful," Sheila Jones, who oversees the Big Sweep effort for Wake County, said.

Nearly 250 volunteers participated Saturday at nine Wake County cleanup sites.

"[The drought] will make shorelines much more accessible. It will give people wider shorelines to walk along. They can go where they couldn't before. Maybe we'll fill up more bags than we have in the past," Jones said.

The drought gripping North Carolina shows little sign of weakening.

The level of Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, fell by more than 6 inches last week, and the water is more than 7 feet below normal.

In Chapel Hill, water levels at University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoirs were down by 42 percent last week.

The lake levels at Little River Lake and Lake Michie, Durham's main water supplies, also continue to fall.

According to preliminary results, 14,710 pounds of trash was collected in Wake County, and 420 pounds of trash was collected from at least one site Durham. A complete report of Big Sweep results will be available on Monday.

In Wake County, Big Sweep will be held again next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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  • gopanthers Oct 7, 2007

    I don't understand why people toss all the garbage into our rivers and lakes. If they can take the time drive to these locations to do that, then they can drive to the local landfill as well. There our many off main site Landfills (smaller drop offs) and it's free. I know because I do it all the time. So I really don't get it.

  • oldrebel Oct 7, 2007

    Over the years I went on several river cleanups with different organized paddling groups. It will totally open your eyes to see what is found and removed during these events. The cleanups are not only a great way to meet and make new friends but it's also needed more than ever now with the lower levels across the state. From the Haw I've seen truckloads of debris removed which included kitchen appliances to basketballs. From the Rockfish neaqr Hope Mills we cruised over thrown away car tires by the thousands that were stuck in the river bottom and couldn't be removed. And on the Lumber we found canoe loads of beer and wine bottles along with a sex toy or two. Film at 11:00.

  • donndeboer Oct 7, 2007

    jenmaris- Fallen trees are an important part of the rivers eco-system. Fish and other aquatic animal use them as shelter. Also as these trees decompose they add nutrients to the environment which helps the entire food chain. Nothing is wasted in nature.

  • jenmaris Oct 6, 2007

    This would be the perfect time for the City to clean out the fallen trees, etc from Crabtree Creek. If you walk down the greeway paths, you see how many trees are exposed from the previous hurricanes, floods, etc. Wouldn't it be much less expensive to clean it up now, rather than later?

  • WinnieFan Oct 4, 2007

    I wish someone would clean up the Tar River while it's dry! Get rid of some of those tree stumps, etc...

  • whatelseisnew Oct 4, 2007

    I can't wait for Falls lake to become completely dry.

  • T-Man Oct 4, 2007

    On another note, with all of the grass growing on the bottom of our lakes, the wildlife will have great hiding spots and food once the water does return. The lakes will be cleaner, and have more abundant wildlife. It is great how improvements can be made from even the worst of situations.


  • bobbyj Oct 4, 2007

    Bad idea and completely not needed. IF the capacity of the bodies of water have been compromised going deeper is not the answer. gaining more acreage is the answer. At some point the area becomes dead storage and not useful. Where is the idea that there is a large sediment issue in the first place?

  • Adelinthe Oct 4, 2007

    Ya know, they are right. Now is the time for cleanup with so much of the land normally under water exposed. However, one will have to be careful of deep mud and even quick sand.

    Surprised those with metal detectors aren't out their sweeping too, but the mud and quick sand exposed is very dangerous.

    Praying for some appreciable rain.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • baracus Oct 4, 2007

    It isn't quite that easy Gotsig. You would have to dredge out to the same depth or greater all the way to where the water is withdrawn. Otherwise that extra capacity won't really be accessible. I suppose doing what you suggested for part of it and dredging the rest as needed could work.