Nearly 1,800 kg of trash removed from the Detroit River watershed

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ERCA says nearly 1,800 kilograms of garbage were picked up by volunteers on April 9, 2021. (Essex Region Conservation Authority/Facebook - image credit)
ERCA says nearly 1,800 kilograms of garbage were picked up by volunteers on April 9, 2021. (Essex Region Conservation Authority/Facebook - image credit)

The Detroit River watershed has gotten a much-needed makeover after years of trash piling up amid the pandemic.

Nearly 1,800 kilograms of garbage were removed from a few locations along the river's watershed as part of a clean-up day earlier this month.

The waste was collected by volunteers from various organizations, who came together along with the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

Event co-ordinator Gina Pannunzio, who works for ERCA, joined the Ontario regional morning show broadcast on Easter Monday — which had a theme of spring renewal — to discuss the project and its impact.

More than 200 volunteers turned out to help. In part, the strong response reflected an understanding of the importance of the river and its tributaries, said Pannunzio, who is ERCA's co-ordinator of partnership and outreach.

But it also reflects our heightened reliance on natural spaces. During the pandemic, people have been spending time closer to home and in green spaces, watersheds and conservation areas, Pannunzio said.

"They were seeing and experiencing nature as a way to de-stress, to connect, to feel safe during a pandemic, but also, the increased use of these spaces and having more people be around, the human impact on these spaces ... visually, it's obvious with the litter," she said.

Some of the trash was expected, your run-of-the mill litter and items that had blown out of recycling bins, she explained.

Other items left the volunteers somewhat shocked.

"We had found some siding, some tiles that looked like they were chipped out of a home renovation project, parts of a hot tub that was abandoned in one of the tributaries, boat seats," she said.

Rotarian Leona MacIntrye collected waste at one of the sites, McKee Park, alongside members of local Rotary groups and other organizations.

"At the end of the day, I would say we probably had 20 or 30 bags from just our little section," said MacIntryre, who is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918).

For Rotarians, their mission involves participating in projects that serve the community.

"These service projects ... are proof and visibility that Rotarians are in action in our community and doing good," she said.

As Earth Month continues, Rotary is planning a tree-planting event on April 24 on Wyandotte Street East between Florence Avenue and Martinique Avenue.

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