Ohio River Sweep - June 19, 2021

Q:  What is the River Sweep?

A:  The River Sweep is a river bank clean-up for the Ohio River and its tributaries including the Allegheny, Monongahela, Beaver and Kentucky Rivers.  During 2011, more than 22,000 volunteers in six states collected more than 11,000 tons of trash and other debris from the banks of the Ohio River and its tributaries.  This year, the Sweep again will encompass the entire length of the Ohio River from its origin at Pittsburgh, PA to its end at Cairo, IL, plus many tributaries -- more than 2,700 miles of shoreline.

On the third Saturday in June volunteers from public organizations, civic groups, recreational clubs and the general public in six states bordering the Ohio River will band together to pick up debris littering the riverbanks.   Each Volunteer will receive a free Ohio River Sweep T-shirt.  The River Sweep is organized by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an interstate water pollution control commission for the Ohio River Valley, along with environmental protection and natural resource agencies from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Ashland, Inc. provides funding support and is a major partner with ORSANCO in promoting the Sweep. 

Funding is also provided by industries and corporations along the rivers involved in the cleanup.

Q:  Is the River Sweep an annual event?

A:  2020 marked the 31st consecutive year for the River Sweep.  Improvements made in river water quality over the last 31 years have been responsible for increased recreational use.  This increase has led to more litter on the riverbanks.  Thus, a yearly cleanup program is needed to keep the river suitable for public use.  In addition to keeping the riverbanks clean, ORSANCO hopes that increased public exposure to the river will foster greater environmental concern for it in the future.

Q:  Who should participate?

A:  Anyone wanting to make a difference in the quality of the Ohio River Valley should participate.  The River Sweep provides an excellent opportunity for many civic groups, school and church organizations and recreational clubs to participate in a community service event.  Any individual, young or old, or any group is welcome.

Q:  What will I gain from participating in the Sweep?

A:  You will play an active role in improving your environment.  You also will be part of a very unique experience -- a river-long Sweep that is one of the largest cleanup events of its kind in the United States.

Q:  What happens to trash collected from the cleanup?

A:  All trash is either recycled or disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Q:  Are there designated cleanup sites on the river?

A:  Yes.  There will be at least one designated cleanup area for each of the counties bordering the river, plus additional sites along tributaries.  Areas will be chosen according to the amount of litter and accessibility to volunteers.  Marinas and boat ramps typically make good cleanup areas.  To locate the site(s) for your county, contact ORSANCO's toll-free Sweep Hotline at 1-800-359-3977.

Q:  What should I wear and/or bring to the River Sweep?

A:  Wear old, comfortable clothes and shoes or boots that you don't mind getting dirty.  Also wear gloves to protect your hands.   Trash bags will be provided.

Q:  Is there danger involved?

A:  The River Sweep can be a fun day filled with good company and the knowledge that the river will be cleaner from your efforts if certain guidelines are followed.  

Please read this list of helpful safety tips:

Volunteers must sign a waiver of liability and anyone under 18 years old must have parental permission to participate.  An on-site supervisor will be available.

ORSANCO would like to thank Pennsylvania DEP, West Virginia Make It Shine Program, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, Kentucky River Authority, Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Illinois EPA for their help and support of the River Sweep project.

Perry County in the River Sweep

This year the Perry County Recycling Management District would like to expand the benefits of programs such as the Ohio River Sweep by including groups and organizations interested in cleaning a section of the roadway, creek or illegal dump area.  The District will provide T-shirts, gloves, bags and final disposal for any group who registers for the program.

Litter awareness campaign information is available to schools and organizations.  For registration information, contact Ken Smith at 812-547-9787.

Arrangements for illegal dump clean-ups can be made by calling Ken Smith at 812-547-9787.