LAKE WYLIE — It’s hard for Riversweep organizers to explain how big a deal the annual cleanup event is on Lake Wylie for people who haven’t been. Fortunately, they say, there are fewer and fewer such people every year.
The volunteer lake clean up returns Oct. 6 for its 11th year. It annually draws tons of trash from the lake. Organizers hope to build on the decade of experience, but also the past two years when record numbers showed up topping 1,000 volunteers.
“We’re hoping to exceed our 1,000,” said Ellen Goff, head of the Lake Wylie Covekeepers.
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, which is the parent group of the Covekeepers, and the Lake Wylie Marine Commission are main forces behind the event. There also are corporate sponsors, including Food Lion providing lunch, T-Bones on the Lake cooking it up, and clubs and organizations lending a hand.
“If it’s a nice day you couldn’t ask for a better way to introduce them to community service,” said Jimmy Roach, head of Clover High School’s Interact Club.
Interact will partner with Lake Wylie Rotary Club to clean up this year. Roach expects about 150 students for Riversweep, which is one of the best attended service projects each year. It’s particularly good for new members, he said, in that it’s early in the school year and shows community teamwork. Food, a T-shirt and a day on the lake aren’t bad, either.
“At the end of the day, they go home with a good feeling in their heart, because they’ve done something good for their community,” Roach said.
Individuals, families and groups are asked to register online at lakewylieriversweep.com for accurate supply counts, although volunteers may show up the day of, too.
New this year is an effort to make Riversweep more accessible to more people. Instead of one after party at T-Bones on the Lake, there will be four food-and-fun locations. The idea is to allow people to clean at areas near them and celebrate with neighbors, opening up festivities to a wider audience.
“It’s a long way from Tailrace Marina,” Goff said of the Buster Boyd after party. “It’s not a quick hop up from Ebenezer Park.”
Another hope, she said, is localizing the effort will lead to a more year-round impact.
“Local stewardship is the most effective way to care for the environment,” Goff said.
Which is what’s happening in the Reflection Pointe community in Belmont. Last year, a resident or two participated in Riversweep. Word spread, and now the community boat slip association and homeowner association are partnering to host the after-party for four work sites.
“It’s basically getting out and helping folks,” said Neil Brennan, homeowner association president. “That’s what draws communities together.”
Brennan will participate in his first Riversweep, signed on as a site and boat captain. His is one of 13 total Riversweep sites.
Lake Wylie Rotary Club, following its inaugural clean-up last year with Riversweep, joined York County’s Adopt-a-Stream program.
“Cleanup projects such as Riversweep are important for our environment,” said club president Chad Bordeaux. “When we participate in such efforts, it allows us to see the effects of litter first-hand. Litter is not only creates a bad image for our community, it is also dangerous to our wildlife, our safety and our economy.”
Want to help?
Riversweep runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 6 on Lake Wylie.
Sites are Allison Creek, Buster Boyd and Nivens Creek access areas; Harbortowne, River Hills, Tailrace and Tega Cay marinas; Charlotte Yacht and Gaston Wildlife clubs; Dale’s Landing, Copperhead Island, Ebenezer Park and Seven Oaks Bridge.
Water, work gloves and trash bags will be provided, as well as food afterward. For more information and to register, visit www.lakewylieriversweep.com.
Riversweep organizers are seeking community help locating the trashiest sites on the lake, or coves, creeks and streams that feed into the lake. Post information on the Lake Wylie Riversweep Facebook page or via “Contact Us” on lakewylieriversweep.com. Describe the location using local landmarks, location names or GPS coordinates. Photos are great, too.
Volunteers with boats are needed to transport volunteers.