This year’s rain-fueled flooding is causing additional problems for a volunteer group whose goal is to clean up the Connoquenessing.
The nonprofit Allegheny Aquatic Alliance has spent the last seven summers pulling garbage from various sections of the creek after it was rated the second-most polluted waterway in the country.
Vice President Christina Handley said all 50 miles have been cleaned, but the work isn’t over.
“When we first started the cleanup project in 2012 we thought that in five years we’d clean all 50 miles of the creek and be done. That was very naïve,” Handley told the Butler County commissioners during a meeting earlier this month.
Handley went on to ask the board for financial support for this year’s two cleanups- which are scheduled for late August and early September. Chairwoman Leslie Osche instructed Handley to meet with county parks director Lance Welliver.
The county has supported the group with in-kind donations in the past but Handley said even more support is needed this year because of increased expenses- including pulling large items from the waterway due to flooding. The group also has to figure out a better way to get rid of the tires they collect because an ongoing relationship with Bridgestone to recycle the tires isn’t working.
“The tires we pulled from the creek in 2018 still have not been picked up,” Handley said.
Since 2012, 419,000 pounds of garbage and roughly 4,500 tires have been removed from the creek. Handley said an entire cabin has since been washed in due to the recent floods.
Volunteers are still needed for this summer’s cleanups. They are scheduled for Aug. 24 and Sept. 7 beginning at 8 a.m. The meeting location this year will be the Major Washington Canoe Launch on Ash Stop Road in Evans City. The group will be focusing on a 20-mile stretch from the city of Butler to Zelienople.
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