But for a group of 70 to 80 dedicated residents and environmentalists, staying inside, dry and warm, was not an option Saturday morning when the city of Griffin’s Public Works and Utilities Department held its annual Stream Cleanup Day.
According to Brant Keller, director of Public Works and Utilities, the event was originally scheduled for last weekend and approximately 180 people had signed up. But the weather was not conducive, so it was rescheduled.
“It’s an educational movement to teach youth and adults about the environment and get them involved in actually cleaning it up,” Keller said during a break from his task of flipping burgers for the volunteers.
During last year’s annual spring cleanup, 3,600 pounds of material were removed from area streams. The previous year there were about 30 people involved in the cleanup, picking up around 800 pounds of material.
This year’s volunteers, some of which have been involved all four years that the cleanup has been taking place, included three Boy Scout troops, three Girl Scout troops, Public Works and Utilities employees, Spalding County employees, 4-H students and a number of civic organizations, including the Rotary Club.
Assistance was also provided by companies like Landscape Depot.
“The real strange thing is that we go back to certain stream segments and we pick up more garbage, TVs, transmissions and tires than before,” Keller said. “They just throw them in the creeks. People think the backyard ditch is somewhere things are supposed to be dumped, but it creates a problem for water quality. Part of what we’re trying to accomplish is to get kids to understand and to become better citizens as they grow up, and to get adults to understand a little bit where their money goes to.”
In additional to the actual cleanup, which ran from 9:30 a.m. to just after noon, there was a parking lot of heavy equipment on display and being used for demonstrations.
One showed how grease clogs the sewers after it has been dumped in household drains.
It was also explained how, when yards are overwatered, fertilizers and herbicides go into the curbs and gutters, eventually making way to the streams.
“Then we have to deal with it from a water quality standpoint,” Keller said. “A lot of things that people don’t see in our business is all the federal regulations we have to deal with.”
In conjunction with the spring cleanup, the department holds a program in the fall at a test site for builders and contractors so they can learn how to keep construction materials on site so they don’t go into streams.
According to Keller, last fall’s event included 14 different governments from the city of Roswell to DeKalb County, as well as six federal agencies and a large number of builders and contractors.