More than 750 volunteers came together for Stream Cleanups at 15 different locations in central New Jersey over two weekends for the Watershed Institute’s 17th Annual Stream Cleanups. Volunteers worked together to remove 11,271 pounds of trash, tires, concrete, bricks, tiles and other debris from the waterways. In one location a team even removed a mangled hot tub that had been swept away during Hurricane Ida. The goal of the effort was to help make our watersheds healthier, protect our environment, and beautify our communities.
According to Jim Waltman, the executive director of The Watershed Institute, “Stream cleanups have an enormous impact on our water quality, protecting the environment, and removing tons of trash. We appreciate the willingness of volunteers, neighbors, and families to join forces to help clean up our water.”
Each year, thousands of pounds of trash and pollutants are washed from streets and yards into rivers and streams, eventually flowing into New Jersey’s bays and the ocean. Over the past 17 years, more than 76 tons (152,000 pounds) of trash have been removed from our communities. The Watershed Institute works with local Environmental Commissions, nonprofits, and municipalities to organize this effort.
This year, volunteers were given a tree sapling as a thank-you instead of the stream cleanup t-shirts that were given out in the past. This change was made to reduce our environmental impact and conserve limited natural resources. One cotton t-shirt takes 650 gallons of water to produce, while a single oak tree can host 532 species of caterpillars, 147 species of birds, 120 species of mammals, and 60 species of reptiles and amphibians. Additionally, a mature white oak can absorb more than 2,000 gallons of stormwater per year, which can help reduce stormwater runoff pollution, flooding, and recharge groundwater. Click here to see photos taken at each location.