Program Hopes to Clean Up River Trash

By Chris Van Horne
|  Friday, Feb 22, 2013  |  Updated 6:49 PM CDT
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There is a push in Fort Worth to encourage residents and visitors to help clean up the trash along the Trinity.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter

There is a push in Fort Worth to encourage residents and visitors to help clean up the trash along the Trinity.

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This week's rain is great for area lawns, lakes and rivers, but litter always comes to light when the rainwater recedes on the Trinity River.

Trash is as common of a sight on the Trinity as birds and turtles but is something no one cares for or wants to see.

"I can see cigarette butts, I can see paper, I can see Styrofoam -- just little pieces of trash," said Mark Olson, Tarrant Regional Water District conservation and ceative manager. "And then you just have dozens and dozens of these plastic bottles, and this is just recent."

This week's rains raised and then dropped the river levels -- although not by much. It exposed trash, but not as much as seen after past storms.

But the trash can't be missed.

"I can't believe people really tube in it," Tiffany May Johnson said.

Olson said studies show most of the trash is no more than four inches in length.

"It's really incredible, but it's a really easy fix," he said. "And it's a problem that we're responsible for, so we're also responsible for being the solution."

That solution is public education and outreach across North Texas. TRWD is joined by the cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, Mansfield and Denton in creating the Reverse Litter campaign. The campaign is aimed at teaching people that their litter -- whether on a field, in a parking lot or down a drain -- likely ends up in the rivers and creeks. And those rivers and creeks lead to lakes, where North Texas gets its drinking water.

The Reverse Litter campaign also wants and needs the community to be involved. TRWD is asking for businesses, schools, communities and individuals to spend a few minutes every Tuesday picking up at least 10 pieces of trash and recyclables and putting them in trash or recycle containers.

The campaign will soon have a place for such groups to public commit to helping the environment.

"If we get 5,000 people to pick up 10 pieces of trash every week on Tuesdays, after a year, we're talking about wiping out 2.6 million pieces of trash," Olson said.

And that's something park goers can get behind.

"It's a start," Johnson said.

The Reverse Litter program is funded by the water district and the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas. The program intends on adding more outreach this spring.

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