Local News

Litter Lingers in Lowered Lakes

The drought is uncovering a dirty secret across the region as things people tossed into lakes and streams are tossed back up by dropping water levels.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The drought is uncovering a dirty secret across the region as sinking water levels uncover trash people once tossed into lakes and streams.

Chad Stinner said he has become so disgusted by the trash he sees along the lowered shoreline of Lake Johnson that he started picking it up at least once a week.

"I found glass bottles from, like, the 1980s," Stinner said. "It's unbelievable the amount of stuff, and a lot of this stuff, you have no idea how it got there."

Much of the trash is tossed from the nearby Interstate 440 Beltline and other roads. Park manager Lila Mill said it's difficult keeping the back area of Lake Johnson spotless, but she said her staff combs the main trails every day.

There are no plans to put garbage recepticles along the dirt trails in the back area of the lake because it's difficult for equipment to get to the area to empty them, Mill said.

"We also, through the year, have groups that keep the park clean," she said.

Each year, North Carolina conducts a clean-up focused on waterways and called Big Sweep. Volunteers collected 365 tons of trash in the effort last year, up from 272 tons the previous year.

Stinner, 32, said he collects two or three bags of trash at Lake Johnson every week. He said he hopes more people are inspired to keep area lakes and streams clean.

"You can't change the world, but you can do a little bit," he said. "If like, just one or two people looked around, I wouldn't be doing this."