Reservoir officials prepare for Operation Clean Sweep

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Ross Barnett Reservoir officials and volunteers are gearing up for the second Operation Clean Sweep on the Pearl River.

The event is designed to help tackle the litter problem along the river and the reservoir.

“Historically, there have been problems with litter on the Pearl River,” Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) office general manager John Sigman said. “This event helps draw attention to that problem and enlists help. Most importantly, it puts the focus on the litter problem.”

The Spillway Recreation Area below the dam will be closed September 15-16 while the Clean Sweep is going on.

Officials from PRVWSD, the state agency that oversees the 33,000-acre lake, said the gates on the access ramps on both sides of the spillway will be locked at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday September 15.

Only volunteers and staff working on the cleanup will be allowed to enter until further notice.

“This is going to be the entire length of the Pearl River and on the lake itself,” Sigman said. “There’s definitely a need for volunteers.”

Work is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday on the west side of the Spillway and continue until it is complete.

Volunteers who would like to participate have 30 locations to choose from. Cleanup teams will be deployed along the Pearl River watershed from its headquarters in Nanih Waiya.

Sigman said several groups come out to participate in the Clean Sweep, including Ross Barnett’s Fisherman’s group.

Cleaning on the east side, or Rankin County side, will follow and the east side parking lot will serve as the collection site for all trash gathered in the reservoir and nearby areas.

Organized by Pearl Riverkeeper Abby Braman of Madison, Operation Clean Sweep targets the entire Pearl River watershed, from the headwaters at Nanih Waiya above Philadelphia to the Pearl’s mouth on the Mississippi and Louisiana border at the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the event page on the Pearl River Keeper website, the event celebrates drinkable, swimmable, fishable water in 15 Mississippi counties, two Louisiana parishes, two states and over 490 miles of river.

Approximately 1,015 volunteers pulled 36,782 pounds of trash from the Pearl River during the inaugural Clean Sweep in 2017.

The event is open to all ages and will be held rain or shine.

Volunteers are asked to bring a reusable water bottle, not single-use plastic; gloves and sturdy shoes. Volunteers who post photographs to social media are asked to use the hashtag #PearlRiverCleanSweep or tag Pearl River Keeper.

Cleanup bags will be distributed by site leaders.

For more information on the event or volunteer locations Operation Clean Sweep, visit https://www.pearlriverkeeper.com/pearl-river-clean-sweep-2018.