Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Waterfest focuses on cleaning up Tuscaloosa’s main water source

As part of the second annual Lake Tuscaloosa-North River Waterfest, volunteers will clean the city’s main water source, where they have previously found items such as dishwashers and furniture discarded at the bottom of the lake.

Waterfest is a three-day event coordinated by the North River Watershed Management Plan along with other sponsors to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining Tuscaloosa water resources, Mary Wallace Pitts, the plan’s coordinator, said.

The fifth annual Clean Our Lake Day on Saturday, is included in this year’s Waterfest. The public is welcome to volunteer for this event, which will start at 8 a.m. at the Binion Creek boat landing.

The Clean Our Lake Day was an initiative started by the city of Tuscaloosa to show residents the amount of trash that lands in Lake Tuscaloosa, the area’s water source. Scott Sandeford, Tuscaloosa’s lake manager, said the event has had a great impact.

“Total, we’ve cleaned out a little over 62,000 pounds of waste out of the lake over the years,” Sandeford said. “The biggest impact is the awareness of those who live on the lake or the watershed around the lake. And people are aware not to dispose of trash in the lake or in the watershed.”

Sandeford said volunteers in the early years of this event would find large items such as household appliances and furniture in the lake. Now, he said awareness has grown, and people know not to discard dishwashers and furniture in the lake or its tributaries. He said the emphasis this year will be on gathering smaller items such as plastic bottles and Styrofoam cups that have accumulated around the lake.

Volunteers should come ready to work, Sandeford said. Those attending the event will be picking up litter from the banks of the lake as well as on the sides of roads around the lake. Sandeford said most of the waste found in the lake is litter thrown onto the sides of roads and then blown or washed into the water. Volunteers who have and are willing to bring boats will be cleaning up deeper areas of the water.

The Waterfest will also include a Water Talk and Student Expo in conjunction with the Clean Our Lake Day. The weekend will kick off with the Water Talk at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Phelps Activity Center.

The talk is open to the public and will provide information regarding the North River Watershed. The Water Talk will also feature an open forum where community members can ask questions about their water supply.

“The Water Talk is geared toward members of the public who want to learn about our water supply, the source of our water supply, and what should be done to protect it,” Pitts said. “We’re really lucky in Tuscaloosa that we have a good clean source of water, but we need to keep it that way.”

The Waterfest Student Expo on Friday will be geared toward school children from the area. Pre-registered classes from schools within the North River Watershed will team up with volunteers to learn more about the Tuscaloosa water supply said Randy Mecredy, director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History at The University of Alabama. Mecredy, who helped coordinate the expo, said last year’s event received positive reviews and many teachers wanted to return for the event this year.

The Student Expo will offer an information fair from the Alabama Clean Water Partnership, which is made up of people who work, live, or have some type of organization in the watershed. There will also be a hands-on event, which includes activities that will teach students how to protect their water supply and why doing so is important. Mecredy said the Expo is a great opportunity for students to learn about their water and how to keep it clean.

“What we hope they would take away is becoming informed citizens and then wanting to take some sort of action like the lake clean-up day and keeping Lake Tuscaloosa clean in the future,” Mecredy said.


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