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Keeping Mississippi waters clean, one river at a time

GORDON JACKSON/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD 
 This 16-foot bass boat was among the 2.5 tons of debris taken out of Back Bay during Mississippi Power's 'Renew Our Rivers' cleanup campaign, held Friday.
GORDON JACKSON/SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD This 16-foot bass boat was among the 2.5 tons of debris taken out of Back Bay during Mississippi Power's 'Renew Our Rivers' cleanup campaign, held Friday.

"Renew Our Rivers," Mississippi Power's annual waterfront cleanup campaign, did not disappoint in removing major polluting items out of the Back Bay perimeter on Friday.

Grand prize findings included a picnic table, a barbershop chair, printers, a drone and even an abandoned boat.

By recruiting volunteer employees and civic and business partners, "Renew Our Rivers" has fought to keep South Mississippi from becoming a "junkyard coast," for the past 11 years, especially after the continuing effects from Hurricane Katrina.

"Doing our part in keeping our waterways clean and in as pristine of a condition as we can is very important to us," said John Atherton, Mississippi Power's vice president of corporate services and community relations. "We grew up here in this area and on these waters, and we're just doing our part to leave the area better than we found it so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy it."

On Friday, "Renew Our Rivers" held their cleanup headquarters at the Bay Shore Drive harbor on the north side of Back Bay, under the 1-110 Overpass, their fifth campaign of the year. With 50 volunteers, they dispatched 10 boats and spent the day combing the coastal edges of Back Bay, between the Popp's Ferry and Ocean Springs bridges.

As expected, common types of debris such as household trash, plastic bags, plastic and glass bottles, tires, foam cups, metal cans, which people discard when they're on the water, were removed.

The 2.5 tons of debris taken out of the Back Bay waters was more than last year's 1.5 tons, but short of the 7.5 tons removed from Clermont Harbor in Hancock County earlier this year. Organizers speculated that much of that debris is still associated with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"So much stuff went out with Katrina, a lot of it is going to come back in," said Kelly Griffin, beautification director for Harrison County.

"Renew Our Rivers" has removed more than 315 tons of debris from Mississippi waters, according to Mississippi Power. Items in past cleanups have included major parts of cars, a full inflatable bounce house and swimming pool, total roofs from houses, refrigerators and an entire living room set.

"It was the couch, chairs, tables and lamps, all on one spot," Mark Loughman, Mississippi Power's environment affairs director, said about the living room furniture.

Loughman added that removing debris is not only important for appearance purposes, but also for positive ecological affects.

"Wildlife can get tangled up in fishing lines and various kinds of plastic debris," Loughman said. "That kind of stuff not only improves the appearance, but also helps to protect wildlife as well."

Partners with "Renew Our Rivers" have included Harrison County Road Department District 1, WastePro, Coca-Cola, McAllister's and the City of D'Iberville.

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