Last updated: March 07. 2014 7:52PM - 870 Views
By - cberendt@civitasmedia.com

Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentLitter is lifted out of the Williams Mill Branch near the U.S. 421/701 overpass in Clinton, part of the clean up effort Clinton Public Works crews undertook this week.
Chris Berendt/Sampson IndependentLitter is lifted out of the Williams Mill Branch near the U.S. 421/701 overpass in Clinton, part of the clean up effort Clinton Public Works crews undertook this week.
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A massive amount of litter and tree debris that was clogging some of the local streams in the heart of Sampson County was removed this past week by crews with the City of Clinton Public Works Department, who lifted close to 4 tons from the waterways.

That tonnage included downed trees that blocked some portions of the Beaver Dam Branch, which extends out from Beaman Street. Crews worked through freezing temperatures this week to clear the areas, as well as clean up a horde of plastic and glass bottles and other litter that had collected along Williams Mill Branch.

Heavy equipment was set up at the bridge near the U.S. 701/421 overpass (Faircloth Freeway) early in the week. Crews skimmed the creek, gathering the litter into one spot at which point it was methodically scooped up, put into waiting trucks and taken away.

“Our guys have been doing a lot of cleanup lately,” Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil said. “The debris in those creeks and tributaries — all that comes from the general public. All that litter goes into the storm drains and into the creeks, and ends up in the streams. It’s up to everybody to do their part to keep that litter out of there.”

A lot of the trash that collects in the Williams Mill Branch comes from the Cattail Branch, which extends from downtown Clinton toward Fisher Drive and Butler Drive and onto its connection with Williams Mill.

“A lot of that probably comes from downtown Clinton,” Vreugdenhil noted.

Along with the garbage, the Public Works director said crews also worked to eliminate a downed tree that had been working as a dam in the Beaver Dam portion not far from where the Beaman Street Fire Station is located.

“On Tuesday, it was 18 degrees and we had guys in the creek between Beaman Street and (Faircloth Freeway) working to clear that area,” he remarked.

Not only did getting the tree debris and litter out of the natural habitat work to improve the flow of water, it also rid the resource of elements that could prove toxic, especially if they found their way into larger creeks and, ultimately, to the ocean. Unclogging the streams also helps to keep the water from backing up toward U.S. 701 Business.

“We’ve been fortunate that water has not back up toward 701 and Grove Park church,” Vreugdenhil attested. “I credit our crews getting out and cleaning up debris, as well as the beaver trapping that takes place.”

Vreugdenhil said the creek cleanup is something that may go unnoticed, but it is an extension of the Public Works other cleanup efforts — the City of Clinton’s Spring Clean Up week is coming up next month —that helps keep the community clear of waste.

The city has collected more than 400 tons of recyclables (close to 900,000 pounds) in the past year of curbside recycling, which has made a sizable dent into the roughly 5 million pounds of residential garbage that makes its way to the landfill each year. Cutting trash from the waste stream is good for the environment, and cutting down litter is another step in the overall effort, Vreugdenhil said.

Public Works crews try to do the creek clearing at least twice a year, similar to the Clean Up weeks, and the department’s director asked for the public’s help.

“Please don’t litter,” he implored. “It all goes into our streams and our oceans and we’re just littering on top of ourselves.”

With this week’s work, the streams are in good shape, especially in regards to any natural debris disrupting water flow.

“One tropical storm or hurricane can put us behind in a hurry,” Vreugdenhil noted, “but right now are creeks are fairly clean.”

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at cberendt@civitasmedia.com.

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