Local News

Water Shortage a Gain for Big Sweep Effort

Posted October 6, 2007 4:20 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2007 7:34 a.m. EDT

— 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.