The Elk River – What Is Our Personal Responsibility?

Every morning I get out of bed and take water for granted. I flush, shower, brush, make coffee, and wash my breakfast dishes. Water. It’s just there.

Where does all the water that flows through our pipes and into our homes come from? Whether you live in the City of Athens or elsewhere in Limestone County, that water comes from the Elk River. Over 14 million gallons per day is drawn from the Elk River, purified, and sent to our homes and businesses.

That alone is a good reason for us to want to keep our river clean; however, there are many other reasons. The Elk River also provides opportunities for recreation, as our cleanup logo reflects. Picnics, fishing, boating, hiking, enjoying nature, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and bird watching are just a few of the activities that take place on or near the Elk River. It is a tremendous resource to Athens and Limestone County.

Volunteer Opportunities

We are looking for volunteers of all ages to join others in an effort to remove trash and debris from the Elk River. KALB’s annual Elk River Cleanup will take place on Saturday, March 4th at 8 a.m. All volunteers will meet at the Hatchery Rd. boat launch in West Limestone for supplies and instructions. KALB and TVA will provide trash bags, gloves, and litter grabbers. Volunteers are welcome to bring additional tools such as rakes, chains, etc. Boats, canoes and kayaks are also welcomed. Be aware of water levels and have all safety gear necessary. After a group photo is taken, volunteers will be disbursed to areas along the river.

No Trash Weighing! Everyone Can Win!
This year, there will be no team competitions. That means no hauling of trash back to the starting point! Instead of team prizes, all volunteers that work from 8 a.m. to noon will have their name entered into a drawing for several prizes. This gives all volunteers a chance to win.

A complimentary lunch will also be served at noon. Email or call to let us know you are coming so we can reserve your lunch. It helps us prepare if we have an idea of how many volunteers to expect. We will have extra food for those who decide to join at the last minute.

Everyone Is Responsible

We are all accountable for the condition of our river, and we should examine our behaviors that relate to either helping to keep the river healthy or polluting this precious water source. Here are some things we need to ask ourselves:

  • Am I careful about the type and amount of fertilizers I use?
  • Do I make the best choices when purchasing household chemicals?
  • Do I quickly repair oil and other fluid leaks? Do I recycle motor oil and transmission fluids? The Athens-Limestone Recycling Center accepts motor oil. Some transmission repair businesses will accept transmission fluid.
  • If applicable, do I inspect my septic system every 3 years and pump the tank as necessary? This will help prevent bacteria and viruses from leaking into storm water or ground water.
  • Do I dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks and toilets or flush old medicines without looking for alternative methods of disposal?
  • Do I toss loose trash in the bed of my truck? Do I cover loads to prevent unintentional littering?
  • Do I place all trash in a garbage bag before placing it in my trash can? Loose items in a trash can will easily become litter when the cans are dumped. Remember, litter from miles away can make its way to the river by way of wind, water, and wildlife.

Let’s take personal responsibility for our part in keeping our river healthy. Participating in the Elk River Cleanup will be an eye-opening experience. Please join us.
By: Lynne Hart