BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Update (6/5): Due to severe weather this weekend, the Cahaba River Society has canceled the 50-mile cleanup. The society says their biggest concern is potential rising water levels that could create danger for volunteers. To read the Cahaba River Society’s full statement, click here.
Original: The Cahaba River Society will launch the largest Cahaba River Cleanup ever.
The Big Cahaba Cleanup will take place Saturday, June 8. Volunteers will help clean up 50 miles of the Cahaba River in stretches from Trussville to Helena, as water levels allow. Volunteers will work in teams in canoes on the River and on foot along the banks to collect trash.
The Cahaba River provides drinking water to the Greater Birmingham area. Cahaba River Society Executive Director, Beth Stewart, says the goal goes beyond a one-day cleanup event.
“The importance of this event is not just to clean up the river, but to keep the river clean. And that’s through education,” said Stewart. “For people to learn that when they litter it ends up in the river. When you throw your trash out on the side of the street or the parking lot, the rain is going to take into a creek and the Cahaba River. And it will pollute the Cahaba and our drinking water.”
Stewart hopes people will leave with a sense of connection to the River after the cleanup.
“If people get directly involved with the river than they learn to love it and take care of it,” said Stewart. “If the river is apart of a person’s life and they’re apart of the life of the river, then they’re likely to protect the river.”
The Cahaba River Society says The Cahaba River is a main drinking water source for the Birmingham Water Works Board, which serves about one-fifth of Alabama residents. It is also a treasure trove of biodiversity with more species of fish per mile than any other river in North America. Considered nationally and globally significant for freshwater biodiversity, it is a magnet for ecotourism, drawing visitors from around the globe to marvel at its natural wonders, such as the renowned Cahaba Lily. Executive Director of Educations, Gordon Black, says litter puts the River’s habitat at risk.
“When you start degrading habitat when you start changing habitat,” said Black. “Some of those creatures can’t stay healthy. So we want to protect that biodiversity. Scientifically its a marvel.”
Leading up to the event, Cahaba River Society is releasing a series of short videos to help spread the word about how trash ends up in the Cahaba. To see those videos click here.
Volunteers will meet at the Aveda Institute in Hoover Saturday, June 8 at 11:30. The address is 3200 Galleria Cir in Hoover.