Ohio River Sweep is an important and fun-filled event

As the temperatures rise, Clermont County residents are flocking to the nearest body of water for fun and entertainment. One hot spot is the Ohio River, and the 1,962 mile long waterway is in need of some attention.

“This is where we get our drinking water, this is where we have our recreation,” said Lisa Cochran of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Committee. “As a result we need to maintain it.”

Cochran said she hopes residents feel a sense of ownership of the Ohio River, as it is a major resource for all those living in the Ohio Valley. And residents will be able to give back and help maintain the river June 18 during the annual Ohio River Sweep.

The River Sweep, which began in 1989, attracts thousands of volunteers who all come out to help collect trash from riverbanks all along the Ohio River. The sweep spans the entire river, from its origin in Pittsburgh, Pa., to its end in Cario, Ill. It includes all of the shoreline as well as many tributaries.

“I think it is a great opportunity to participate in your community,” Cochran said. “Even though you’re picking up trash, I think it is a social event.”

In addition, Cochran, who helps organize the event, said many people feel it is rewarding and satisfying to see the banks of the Ohio clean again. She said it is a unique volunteer opportunity because participants are able to see the immediate results of their service.

“You can look at the trash bag and see the dumpster fill up,” Cochran said. “It’s amazing to see a dumpster fill up with trash that was unfortunately on the shoreline.”

In addition, some areas of the sweep also hold contests for picking up the strangest piece of trash. Cochran said they have found a wedding dress, shoes, dolls and other odd pieces of trash. She said there is a bit of a novelty to it, and it can make picking up trash more interesting.

Jeanne Ison, project director for River Sweep, created the event 22 years ago. Ison helped get corporates sponsors for the event and collect volunteers. Last year more than 18,000 volunteers participated in the Ohio River Sweep, including environmental organizations, recreational clubs, scout troops, local businesses and the general public.

Cochran said it is an easy event to volunteer for and “you don’t need to be able to lift a tire to participate.” In addition, there is at least one designated clean up site for each county. Volunteers simply arrive at the site, sign a volunteer waiver and begin.

Clermont County has five designated clean-up sites including the New Richmond Bandstand, the Village of Moscow Town Hall, Chilo Lock 34-Clermont County Park, Meldahl Locks and Dam and Indian Mound Campground in Neville.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to approximately noon. Volunteers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing that can get dirty and close-toed shoes or boots. Trash bags and gloves will be provided. Volunteers will also receive a free T-shirt for participating in the sweep.

“It’s very rewarding, it’s simple, easy and it’s satisfying to see that it’s cleaned up,” Cochran said.

For more information about the Ohio River Sweep visit www.orsanco.org/riversweep, or to contact the Clermont County coordinator, Becky Ploucha, call (513) 753-9222.