CHARLESTON — One of the nation’s largest stream cleanup events has been modified due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 1989, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission has partnered with the environmental protection agencies from West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania on the Ohio River Sweep — an annual volunteer cleanup that extends the entire length of the Ohio River. Volunteers from the six states which border the Ohio River remove litter at multiple locations along the river and many of its tributaries.
Safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic prohibit the large groups of volunteers that typically participate in the event, so the Ohio River Sweep has introduced Mini-Sweeps.
Mini-Sweep participants in West Virginia choose the date and location of their cleanup and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan program and ORSANCO will provide support and supplies to hold a socially distanced cleanup event.
Mini-Sweep events can be held any time between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, and should be conducted in small groups to allow for social-distancing practices. All sweeps must follow current state and local COVID-19 mandates.
Volunteers wishing to participate can contact REAP’s Make It Shine program at DEPwvmis@wv.gov or 1-800-322-5530 to plan their cleanup and arrange for supplies.
REAP, whose new motto is “Keeping WV Clean and Green,” was created in 2005 and strives to clean up West Virginia and rid the state of litter. The program empowers citizens to take ownership of their communities by providing technical, financial, and resource assistance in cleanup and recycling efforts. More information is available on the REAP webpage: https://dep. wv.gov/environmental-advocate/reap/Pages/ default.aspx.