West Fest Waterway Cleanup a Success

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
West Fest Waterway Cleanup a Success
Volunteers help remove trash from a creek in Gold Park.

Sixteen volunteers helped remove an estimated 305 pounds of trash from Gold Park on Saturday morning, April 29, as part of West Fest 2017.

The cleanup, sponsored by the Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services Division as part of the inaugural block party and music festival along South Nash Street, was intended to target the Eno River. Heavy rains earlier in the week left the river too high and turbid to safely remove litter, so volunteers focused their efforts on a creek flowing through the town park instead.

They collected about 17 bags of trash and some bulk debris that could not be bagged. Most items included cans and bottles, with about 85 pounds of the total weight separated as recyclable to keep it out of a landfill. Unusual items found included old shoes, a tire and a lacrosse ball.

“I was very pleased with the turnout for the inaugural West Fest cleanup,” said West Fest organizer Eric Steidinger, who wanted to include an environmental component to the three-day event. “It gives us something to build on next year.”

Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services Manager Terry Hackett echoed the sentiments.

“For a first-time event, it was great,” he said. “The volunteers were very enthusiastic, real ‘creek warriors.’ I look forward to supporting this event next year.”

In addition to providing gloves, trash grabbers, bags and other supplies, the Town of Hillsborough removed the collected trash through the work of Public Works employees.

Other events

On Saturday afternoon, Hackett also led a tour of the park’s stormwater control measures, discussing how they work to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. He will be at Thursday’s pollinator garden workday at the park to provide a brief overview of the bioretention site that the garden is part of. The volunteer workday is 8 to 10 a.m. 

Also, look for more information soon on a volunteer workday for Gold Park’s wetland, which likely will occur in June. Gold Park is located at 415 Dimmocks Mill Road.

Why clean up watersheds?

Litter is harmful, especially when allowed to enter local waterways. As litter decomposes, it can leach harmful chemicals into surface and ground water. Wildlife often mistake litter for food; when they eat it, it can suffocate them or clog their digestive systems. Wildlife also can become entangled in litter.

Because litter is also unsightly, it can hurt the local economy, causing tourists to avoid littered areas and businesses to choose not to locate there.

For more information, contact the stormwater and environmental services manager by email or by phone at 919-296-9621.