Water Sweep

2017 Water Sweep

How can I participate in a cleanup event?

1. Cleanup locations that are open to the public. Feel free to go to the location of your choice.

2. Please fill out the registration form prior to showing up so that we can have your tee-shirt at the right location. Only pre-registered participants will be guaranteed a free tee-shirt (while supplies last).

3. Show up on the cleanup day and bring some friends! Please wear sturdy sneakers or boots, plastic or rubber gloves, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bring a bottle of water. Bug spray is a good idea too. Children under 18 must be supervised by an adult. Click here for safety information.

4. Volunteers are asked to sign in at the registration table located at each of the boat launch sites. You will be given pick tools & litter bags. Other materials such as gloves, life vests, bug spray may or may not be available, so please be prepared to take care of your needs. Dumpsters will be available for collected litter at each one of the boat launch sites. It is suggested that volunteers work in a team of 3 or 4, picking up litter and trash. Once the litter is collected please bring it to the dumpster for proper disposal.

5. When you have completed cleaning up please return the pickup tool & unused litter bags to the registration table, and feel GREAT that you were part of the solution to reduce litter and debris in Louisiana's waterways.

What should I wear to the event?

Wear comfortable clothes that can get wet or dirty. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are recommended for stream-side and river cleanups. Wear sturdy shoes—no sandals or open-toed shoes. Wear gloves too. The rubber gloves used for washing dishes are good when you will be reaching in the water for litter. Cotton or leather work gloves are better for removing litter along the shoreline. A hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and insect repellent are also good to wear.

How have the clean ups across the state specifically helped water quality?

Our efforts to clean Louisiana's waterways reflect the inter-relationship of the oceans and inland waterways. Tracing marine debris to its sources has shown us that 60% to 80% of the debris we find on our beaches actually originates further upstream—in rivers and streams. The effects of marine debris are some of the most devastating on our planet in terms of habitats and biological resources. There are economic stakes too—tourism and recreational spending are important to Louisiana. Litter-free environments are appreciated by all citizens and visitors. This project educates Louisiana citizens about the harm litter, and lack of recycling, can cause.

Can my group signup to organize a cleanup site?

YES! Any group can sign up and have a cleanup event. We have churches, schools, business, and community group’s signup every year. All we ask is that you get 10 or more volunteers together for your cleanup event. For a registration form that you can print out, click here.

Who benefits from the Water Sweep Cleanup in Ouachita Parish?

• All Louisianan’s who depend on our waterways for recreation or commercial purposes benefit from this program's short and long-term improvements in waters' cleanliness and safety.

• Wildlife and plants benefit as trash-free water results in improved habitats. Entanglement of animals in fishing line, and ingestion of plastic by wild animals will both be decreased.

• Volunteers involved with the cleanup will learn firsthand the impact litter has on our rivers. There is no better education about the harm that litter can cause than by bagging it for several hours.

• Students are gaining practical skills in management, organizing, program development, and public relations while helping the local KAB affiliates and Louisiana's environment. Future teachers are learning their important role in teaching their future students about recycling and litter issues.

• Louisiana's Taxpayers benefit, as litter is collected through volunteer efforts, rather than tax dollars.

Aquatic Litter and Debris—Impacts

Litter not only detracts from the beauty of a riverside park or beach, but also can be a health and safety hazard for humans and aquatic wildlife. Another big impact of litter is the cost to society. Millions of dollars are spent every year in Louisiana by state and local governments, parks, schools, and businesses to pick up litter.

Impacts on Aquatic Habitat

Habitat destruction or harm is caused when submerged debris (for example, a piece of plastic sheeting) covers sea grass beds, or smothers bottom-dwelling species. Some debris can also cause physical damage.

Impacts on Water Quality

Debris can also affect the water quality by adding chemicals to the water. Construction waste illegally dumped in a stream can include buckets that once held paints, solvents, and other chemicals that can enter the water. Cigarette butts and some other littered items contain toxic chemicals that leach into the water.

Impacts on Aquatic Animals—Entanglement and Ingestion

Aquatic debris can be particularly dangerous and often lethal to wildlife. Each year, more than 100,000 marine mammals die when they ingest debris or become entangled in ropes, fishing line, fishing nets, and other debris dumped into the ocean. As many as 2 million seabirds also die every year due to debris ingestion and entanglement. Fishing line, fishing nets, strapping bands, and six-pack rings can hamper the mobility of aquatic animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing, or swimming, all of which can have fatal results. According the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), marine debris threatens over 265 different species of marine and coastal wildlife through entanglement, smothering, and interference with digestive systems.

Impacts on Human Health and Safety

Trash in our waterways can also affect human health and safety. Hazards include glass and metal left on the beach, or hospital needles and syringes that can carry disease. Fishermen and recreational boaters can also be endangered as nets and monofilament fishing line wrap around a boat's propeller. Plastic sheeting and bags can also block the cooling intakes on boats. Such damage is hazardous and costly in terms of repair and lost fishing time. A survey in Oregon revealed that nearly 60 percent of fishermen had experienced equipment damage due to marine debris, costing thousands of dollars in repairs.

Economic Impacts from Aquatic Debris

A tremendous amount of time, effort, and machinery is devoted in Louisiana to cleaning up litter on the land and in our waterways. Many Louisiana coastal communities and parks have regular beach sweeping to remove trash left behind by visitors. Louisiana's Department of Transportation spends more than $4 million to remove litter from our roadsides in addition to the thousands of hours Adopt-A-Highway volunteers spend picking it up.