Editorial: River cleanup benefits us, environment

Water. It's something we may take for granted.

It's always available, even during these drought conditions.

Water is always there, for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing, even for swimming.

And we're talking clean water, available at the turn of a handle.

But what if our water wasn't clean? Some of us don't seem to mind polluted water, if you take a look at the amount of garbage dumped into our main water source, the Conasauga River.

Fortunately for us, there are many area residents ready to step up and tackle this problem.

On Saturday, the Conasauga River Watershed Clean-Up marks its 25th year, as a couple of hundred people are expected to show up in the morning to begin picking up litter and removing unnatural debris from seven places along the river, the main water supply for Whitfield and Murray counties.

As reported in this newspaper on Thursday by Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, 219 volunteers collected nearly 10,000 pounds of trash on a Saturday morning last year. In the past 24 years, those totals ratchet up to 254,000 pounds of litter and 6,089 volunteer efforts.

There's more to our local river system than good drinking water. The Conasauga watershed is one of the six most biologically diverse freshwater river systems left in the United States. It hosts dozens of endangered and imperiled species, including the namesake Conasauga logperch, a minnow-sized fish found nowhere else on Earth.

If you're interested in improving our water system, it's not too late to volunteer.

For more information, call Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful at (706) 278-5001 or visit www.KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.org to download the event flier with directions to each site. On Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.

This year’s event is from 9 a.m. to noon. The sites include tributaries that may be closer to your home, such as at Prater's Mill near Varnell or Lakeshore Park in Dalton.

We thank each volunteer who has picked up trash and cleaned our waterways of everything from Styrofoam cups to a trampoline. And to those who will show up on a chilly Saturday morning, remember your work really does make an immediate difference that benefits the environment for years to come.

We are fortunate there are those among us who are willing to get out there and keep our waterways clean.

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