Flooding Increases River Pollution - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Flooding Increases River Pollution

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On this Earth Day, Mother Nature's full power is on display around the QCA with all this flooding. As the water recedes, it's going to be taking a lot of garbage into the river with it.

Every year, a lot of trash ends up in our nation's rivers.

Last year alone, the group Living Lands and Waters, a not-for-profit based out of East Moline that's dedicated to cleaning up the nation's waterways, collected more than 47,000 lbs. of it from our local waterways alone.

Included in that garbage, collected during last year's XStream Cleanup event, were 658 tires, 16 appliances, and even a wedding dress. And that's the run of the mill sort of stuff - the sort of pollution they'd pick up no matter what.

Major flooding events, like the one we're dealing with now, add to that exponentially.

"With the flood comes more garbage and a lot more work for us to do," Tammy Becker, Program Manager for Living Lands & Waters, said.

It's a testament to the power of the flood waters, the kinds of items they can pick up and drag away.

"You name it," Becker explained, "I mean campers, cars, we pick up a lot of docks."

"We literally have found everything, including the kitchen sink before," she recalled.

Living Lands and Waters volunteers also end up finding a lot more things that used to be in people's backyards, like swing sets, trash cans, lawn chairs, and the like.

That's where a little planning ahead can go a long way.

"A lot of it that we pick up are barbeque grills, propane tanks, things that are normally stored outside, so if you know the water's coming up, to grab that stuff, put it inside, bring it up to higher ground," Becker explained.

Even if you can't prevent it, everyone can help pick up in the flood's aftermath.

So, the timing of these floods is fitting.

"Earth Day is a great day to create that awareness and remind people that our actions do have an impact on the environment," Becker said.

The fact is, there are a lot of reasons to keep trash out of the rivers.

Obviously, it's bad for the fish and wildlife that call the water home, but it's also a hazard to boating, and it's definitely a bit of an eyesore.

And that can be hard on our local tourism economy.

The good news: The very floods that cause the influx in river pollution also serve as a call for action for volunteers to help pick it up.

"Especially in the Quad Cities, where they've been through this a few times, they know there's going to be some cleanup work to do afterwards," Becker said.

And every year, local residents turn out in big numbers to do their part to get the job done.

Over the last fifteen years, since Living Lands and Waters was founded, the organization has picked up more than 7 million pounds of trash from our nation's waterways.

The group will be holding another local clean up event here this August.