Trash gathers across from the ditch where the storm drain enters the Blackwater River and around a fallen tree. Riverkeeper Jeff Turner said he picks up half a ton of trash each year. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News
Trash gathers across from the ditch where the storm drain enters the Blackwater River and around a fallen tree. Riverkeeper Jeff Turner said he picks up half a ton of trash each year. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Archived Story

Litter cluttering Blackwater River

Published 10:05am Friday, July 12, 2013

FRANKLIN—When throwing out your garbage, you often don’t think of where it goes.

But when you litter in the Franklin area, it will often end up in a storm ditch and ultimately in the Blackwater River. The trash could kill wildlife in the river and mess with the ecosystem.

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner said the situation has gotten better over the years, but there is always room for improvement.

“When that stuff gets on the streets, it goes to the same place — it washes in storm drains, it washes into the river — nobody understands the principle of down stream,” Turner said. “Don’t litter. It is amazing to me what people will lug around, while drinking the drink, or carrying a full heavy beverage cooler. Yet when they finish it, they can’t carry that when it is light.”

City Manager Randy Martin said that the public works department has been working hard to keep the ditches cleared, not only because of the litter on the river, but also because of flooding.

“It tends to block and impede the flow of storm water, which can result in localized flooding,” Martin said, noting also that he would like to see more public support in keeping Franklin clean, but that the city does “support efforts to keep the trash out, of course, it is a never-ending task.”

Over the years, Turner said, he has picked up tons of trash that came into the river from that ditch. Today, the situation has improved, however. He said that over the course of a year he used to average a ton of trash, whereas today, it is half of a ton. Even today, he said he can’t get it all, especially after a big storm.

“The worst is when there hasn’t been a big rain for a long time, then you get a real frog strangler heavy thunder storm,” he said. “It flushes that stuff right on out. The trash will blow out like a chute to the other side of the river.”

There are two ditches that lead to it, one from Armory Drive, and the other from the South Street area, which is often where more trash comes from, Turner said.

“Over my 13 years, I have collected 100 basketballs, 40 footballs, and all of that,” Turner said. “The ditch runs behind the recreation center over there, so I know that is where a lot of it is coming from.”

Unsecured items can be a problem when it floods, such as tires. Martin said the city provides collection programs to get items that the normal curbside disposal doesn’t pick up, but that people need to take advantage of these programs for them to be effective. For more information on the programs, or for guidelines on preparing items to be picked up by the waste disposal, contact public works at 562-8564.

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