Nashville Clean Water Project seeks volunteers for Saturday trash pickup at lake

Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 1:58pm
Staff reports

Nashville Clean Water Project organizers hope Saturday’s day of service at Percy Priest Lake helps transition the campaign into a formal watershed education and advocacy organization.

Since 2008, the group has organized large-scale efforts to clean up trash around Percy Priest Lake and other waterways. Organizers seek about 150 volunteers, age 16 or older, for such an event Saturday, May 5, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the lake.

Organizers hope to parlay Saturday’s event into an organized effort against litter and debris polluting the area’s storm water drainage system.

“We seem to have the interest, we’re seeing the support,” said Mark Thien, cofounder of the NCWP initiative supported by volunteers and corporate participants. Phase II would involve shifting the cleaner water effort to other problem areas in the Midstate, and engaging more volunteers through a formal nonprofit organization at Percy Priest Lake.

Thien said the next phase is “critically dependent” on Saturday’s project.

“The most challenging problem involves public litter, which becomes storm water debris after a rain,” Thien said. “The problem is significant; there doesn’t seem to be an end to it in Middle Tennessee.”

Final project preparations have led organizers to a dozen new large deposits of trash and debris from consistent storm water inflow, the surge of water that occurs after a rain.

Parking lot, street gutter or roadway trash can end up in storm drains during rain and eventually re-emerge in a Midstate stream, lake or river.

The problem, Thien said, is exasperated by “penalty-free littering and dumping” in rural and less trafficked urban areas where few people see. “The resulting trash begets more trash,” he added.

For the last four years, the Nashville Clean Water Project initiative has provided leadership for the Nashville Waterways Recovery Initiative, the task force comprised of nonprofit water conservation organizations, Hands On Nashville, and state and Metro government agencies that coordinated relief efforts after the 2010 floods in Middle Tennessee.

The group is also behind a growing stakeholder group established with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s office working to implement sustainable solutions to the pollution and storm water problems in Middle Tennessee.

Saturday’s check-in is at J. Percy Priest’s A.C.E. workshop compound, 3701 Bell Road, Nashville, 37214 (100 yards from the corner of Stewarts Ferry and Bell roads). To registration for Saturday’s cleanup, visit www.cleanPercyPriest.org.

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