Volunteers Clean Up River and Waterways

VolunteersDistrict staffers and Board members who participated in the Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup spent their Saturday cleaning up the shoreline at DeSoto Park on McKay Bay.

More than a dozen District employees and Board members recently took part in one of Tampa’s largest volunteer events — the 20th Annual Mayor’s Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup.

The District joined forces with more than 1,200 volunteers to scour the banks of the Hillsborough River and other Tampa waterways to pick up litter and remove nonnative invasive plants that choke out native species. The cleanup took place at 25 shoreline locations in November.

Maritza Rovira-Forino, Governing Board member and chair ex officio of the Northwest Hillsborough Basin Board, and Devon Higginbotham, Hillsborough River Basin Board member, joined District staff in the cleanup.

“I am thrilled to see so many District employees volunteering their time to clean up the Hillsborough River,” said Rovira-Forino. “The water resources are in better shape because of the efforts of all the volunteers who participated on this special day.”

In addition to volunteering at the event, the District also supports the annual cleanup financially as a sponsor.

This year, volunteers hauled away more than seven tons of debris and litter. The annual cleanup is part of the Mayor’s Beautification Program. More than 214 tons of garbage have been removed from the river since the first Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup. Items that have been cleaned out of the river include shopping carts, mattresses, clothes, car parts, toilets, sinks, tires, safes and, of course, litter.

The Hillsborough River is a central part of Tampa’s identity, serving as the backdrop for Tampa’s downtown. It also provides an alternative potable water source and wildlife habitat as well as enhanced recreational opportunities.

Volunteers were invited to attend the Rollin’ on the River picnic at Lowry Park following the cleanup. The celebration included food, live music and environmental educational activities, including the District’s information booth. The booth was popular with teenage volunteers who picked up Florida-friendly temporary tattoos, as well as volunteers of all ages who received water conservation material to take home.