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Water Quality Officials Tell Mississippians to Pick it Up

By Daniel Cherry | Published 28 May 2012 04:28pm | comments

The Memorial Day holiday brought out thousands of Mississippians to the state's lakes and rivers. Many left behind tons of trash. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how conservation officials and advocates are telling Mississippians to clean it up.

At popular camping areas in the upper end of the Ross Barnett Reservoir in central Mississippi, volunteers are cleaning up trash and installing recyclable Boat n Tote Bags.

"Boat n Tote Bags are made out of a mesh plastic that's recycled that has holes in it. It kind of looks similar to the potato bag."

That's Jeannine May, Executive Director of a volunteer organization called Keep the Rez Beautiful. When not volunteering May works with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and recently she witnessed huge amounts of trash coming out of the spillway of the Reservoir.

"They opened the gate a little bit for us, and we looked below the spillway and you wouldn't believe all the trash coming down the spillway. You didn't see it floating in the big waters, but that flows into the Pearl River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. So you have a water quality problem."

Most of the trash filling up Mississippi's waterways comes from either runoff or boaters and campers who negligently or purposefully leave garbage behind. John Sigman, Director of the Pearl River Water Supply District says all the trash can be a big headache for those working to supply clean drinking water to Mississippians.

"About 200,000 people use this as a drinking water source. The city has adequate treatment plants to take care of most everything that comes through it, but it's our duty to make sure that we deliver the best water possible."

Advocates hope to see less trash cluttering up Mississippi's rivers and coastlines. Last year in one day, volunteers on the coast cleaned up more than 61 tons of garbage.

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