RIVERS ALIVE Clean water from the mountains to the sea

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1 RIVERS ALIVE 2008 Clean water from the mountains to the sea

2 Greetings Georgia water lovers! This was an exceptional year for Rivers Alive and all our organizers, volunteers and Advisory Board Members. For the last 10 years Rivers Alive has embodied the true volunteer spirit of people who care about Georgia and our water supply. Rivers Alive event organizers know they can reach out to people of all ages, places and skills and involve them in protecting our most important natural resource, water. Our volunteers find out how their individual effort, one person picking up trash in our water can make a big difference. The result: We had a record breaking year in celebration of 10 years of cleaning Georgia s waterways was a year of many changes especially with Georgia s on-going water crisis. The water crisis brought more attention to Rivers Alive but did not translate into additional funding. It is a constant struggle to find enough sponsor funds to say thank you to each volunteer. We accomplish this by providing t-shirts and support to volunteers as they remove tons of trash from waterways each year. Rivers Alive not only maintained our current level of events, we grew our volunteer army. This speaks to the strength of the program and our excellent support staff in the Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division. We had three long time board members retire their seats: Tanya Blalock from Georgia Power, William Kent from Columbus Water Works, and Mark Wyzalek from the Macon Water Authority. All three of these members have given years of volunteer service to Rivers Alive, and have been a guiding force in the ongoing success of the program. The Advisory Board and Rivers Alive are very grateful for their service, and we are excited to continue our work with their hand-picked replacements. My fellow board members and I have a deep passion for Rivers Alive. We are excited about new relationships with organizations like Hands On Georgia, the Girl Scouts and others. We are also looking for and implementing inventive new ways to raise funds and attract new sponsors and organizers. We expect 2009 to be our best year ever. We have opened our website to major changes so we can attract and keep track of the many groups and organizers that not only clean our water in the fall, but all year round. We plan to give more training, mentoring and publicity to groups and people who can spread the message and help our work keeping Georgia s precious water resources clean of trash. On Earth Day, April 22 nd, 2009, we ll be celebrating 10 years of Rivers Alive during our awards luncheon at the Atlanta Zoo. If you are not part of the Rivers Alive family, we hope you join us this year with organizing or sponsoring your own event, joining a scheduled event in your neighborhood, or just picking up the trash that always ends up in our water. Who knows, it might be you we honor in 2010! Bonny Putney Rivers Alive Chair Rivers Alive is Georgia's annual volunteer waterway cleanup event that targets all waterways in the State including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches and wetlands. The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources through waterway cleanups.

3 26,841 volunteers 88 Georgia counties 368 tons of garbage 2,265 miles 90,924 volunteer hours

4 A Year of Success in 2008 In 2008, the Rivers Alive campaign celebrated 10 years of cleaning up Georgia s waterways. Over the past decade, 182,842 volunteers have extracted 3,862,348 pounds of trash from 12,086 miles of waterway. While these impressive numbers indicate the tremendous impact this program has had on communities and their watersheds in the past, the numbers from this year s cleanup indicate that Rivers Alive will continue to grow into the next decade. Despite high gasoline prices and a gasoline shortage during the fall, 26,841 volunteers participated in Rivers Alive events almost 10 percent more than any single previous year. These cleanup events totaled 90,924 volunteer hours removing tons of garbage from 2,265 miles of waterway. Rivers Alive volunteers contributions leave Georgia s waters cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable for everyone, and make a positive impact on the environment. Removing debris materials from the stream is by definition a success, but getting many to take ownership of the process is even more important. - William Griffin, Atlanta

5 Volunteer organizers coordinate Rivers Alive cleanups on the local level with support from the Rivers Alive state office and the Rivers Alive advisory board. These organizers register in the summer and plan until fall for cleanups of two to sometimes as many as 10,000 volunteers! Cleanups target over 70,150 miles of streams, rivers, wetlands and coastal areas. Eighty-eight counties in Georgia held at least one Rivers Alive cleanup event in 2008, comprising over 50 percent of the counties in Georgia. In total, 167 cleanups were accounted for during the fall cleanup. This translated into a high number of volunteer hours. According to Independent Sector s estimation of the value of a volunteer hour using Bureau of Labor statistics, the 90,924 volunteer hours contributed during 2008 Rivers Alive events are equal to $1,773, worth of labor. Groups from cities, clubs, organizations, corporations, colleges, elementary, middle and high schools participated throughout Georgia.

6 To reinforce the Rivers Alive 2008 theme of water conservation, over 20,000 Every Drop Counts cards, Drought in Georgia posters and watersmart magnets were distributed to Rivers Alive organizers. Along with these materials, hosted educational resources such as Adopt-A-Stream activities and links to water conservation information. Educational Rivers Alive posters with a classroom activity on the back were made available, as well as Rivers Alive bookmarks that prominently displayed artwork from the international children s poetry and art contest, River of Words. In addition to educational materials, t-shirts were distributed to organizers. For 2008, volunteer t-shirts were designed differently to attract a wide range of audiences. The front of the shirt displayed the Rivers Alive 2008 logo, while the back described the copious amounts of garbage removed from Georgia waterways over the past ten years. T-shirts were also offered in organic cotton for a nominal charge, and a novelty River Trash t-shirt was promoted as a fundraiser. Overall, the state office distributed close to 12,000 t-shirts to cleanups across Georgia as a way to recognize and thank volunteers for their efforts. Other support material offered to cleanups included stickers and banners made available for organizers to distribute at cleanups. Hands On Georgia also provided $100 The Home Depot gift cards for cleanups during Hands on Georgia week in September. Those that participated were enlightened about the condition of the area, and also about what an impact a few volunteers can make in a few hours. -Sharon Coffman, Cedartown

7 2008 Stats 18,824 glass bottles 4,533 feet fishing line 165 appliances 8,332 plastic bags 1,688 tires 203 batteries 22,376 cans 15,355 cigarettes 13,055 food wrappers 1,979 pull tabs 265 light bulbs 1,000 six-pack holders

8 Communication is vital to promoting cleanup events, and Rivers Alive utilized new avenues of getting the message out in Advisory Board members created a Rivers Alive Facebook page to expedite communications between organizers in different regions, and to link organizers, volunteers and the Rivers Alive board. Volunteers and organizers were able to share video and pictures from their cleanup events through the Facebook page. In addition, hosted cleanup schedules and served as a point of contact between the state office and local coordinators. Promotional posters, the Cleanup Guide and other resources such as mentor lists and waiver forms were accessible to the public via the website. Public service announcements, promotional posters and press releases were sent to organizers a few months in advance of cleanups to use in garnering publicity for cleanup events. In addition to these materials, six Rivers Alive banners were also made available to cleanup organizers. In total, 105 articles about Rivers Alive covered the pages of periodicals and newspapers in Georgia from September to November.

9 The 2008 Rivers Alive event was our most successful cleanup. The weather was perfect, it was planned and managed well, the response from the community and other support organizations was great. -Annie Huff, McDonough

10 A look at In 2009 we look forward to implementing new website functions that will allow Rivers Alive organizers easy access to cleanup registration, updated information and final tally form submission. Rivers Alive will also move to begin collecting cleanup data year-round through the new website. Volunteers will also be able to find cleanups more easily through the new website. The educational theme for 2009 will be Water Quality. This theme reflects the important role Georgia citizens have in safeguarding our shared natural resources for everyone s benefit. We hope you will join us in 2009 for a Rivers Alive cleanup in your area to help protect Georgia s water resources. Rivers Alive is coordinated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division s Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Keep Georgia Beautiful Program, in cooperation with Columbus Help the Hooch. The 2009 Rivers Alive Advisory Board is made up of individuals from the following organizations: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Adopt-A-Stream Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Keep Georgia Beautiful Coca-Cola Enterprises Bottling Company Oglethorpe Power Corporation Macy s Inc. Georgia Power Company Balch & Bingham LLP Macon Water Authority Southern Environmental Law Center Reed Construction Data Cobb County Watershed Stewardship Program Consolidated Resources, LLC Hands On Georgia Georgia Wilderness Society Georgia River Network Keep Forsyth County Beautiful Pulaski County Ocmulgee Watershed Stewardship Partnership Imerys USA Girl Scouts of Concharty Council, Inc.

11 Special thanks to our 2008 sponsors: Georgia Power Coca-Cola Oglethorpe Power Balch & Bingham LLP Environmental Planning Specialists, Inc. Jones Day Kodak MeadWestvaco Sutherland Additional support provided by: CH2M Hill Cobb County Water System Dalton Utilities Georgia Ports Authority MEAG Power Ocean Conservancy Warnell Graduate Student Association

12 Rivers Alive 4220 International Parkway Suite 101 Atlanta, GA (404) The publication of this document was supported by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and was financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended at a cost of $5.75 per publication. April 2009

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