Local News

Community Volunteers Cleaning Up The Neuse River

Posted April 1, 2006 6:37 a.m. EST

— It stretches for more than 50 miles and holds thousands of pounds of trash, but it isn't a landfill.

It's the Upper Neuse River, which runs through Wake County and becomes the drinking water for about 200,000 people in Johnston and Wayne counties.

Over the past three years, volunteers have collected about 30,000 pounds of garbage from that same water, pulling muddy junk, including alcohol bottles, shoes, picnic tables and even two cars.

The efforts are part of the Neuse River Foundation, which sponsors a cleanup each spring. This year's event was held Saturday.

"We have a weirdest item award, and last year, it was for a disco ball," said Dean Naujoks, the Upper Neuse river keeper.

Eventually, there will be a scenic greenway that will stretch 18 miles along the river, but keeping the river clean has broader implications. More and more people are tapping into the water supply.

"Really, the future economic growth of the entire region comes through the Neuse River and Falls Lake," Naujoks said. "Without it, we would not have drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people moving her in the next 20 years."