A suitcase, car bumper, a pool noodle, a rusty bicycle, a 6-foot section of a picket fence, and even a family portrait are just some of the 6.6 tons of garbage more than 600 volunteers pulled out of the east and west branches of the DuPage River and Salt Creek in DuPage and Will Counties.
That’s a lot of stuff that’s not supposed to be in the water!
The Conservation Foundation organizes this annual event with the help of the DuPage County Stormwater Management Department, Waste Management, and a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
More than 10,000 volunteers have cleaned up nearly 245 tons of garbage from DuPage County streams since 1991.
“This year we had fewer volunteers, but they actually covered 36 more miles of river than last year,” Jan Roehll, DuPage County Program Director, said. “Three volunteers found money — $5, $10, and $20 bills. Who says volunteering doesn’t pay off?”
A group of kayakers, including Susan Allman (pictured here) scoured the West Branch of the DuPage River despite the morning’s rain. Groups included neighbors and families who helped “sweep” an area nearly 100 miles long.
This event is a way for citizens to improve the waterways in their neighborhoods by picking up debris and litter from a section of a stream or pond. Sponsoring organizations provide supplies, technical support, snacks, water, and trash pokers for volunteers to complete their work.
Picking up garbage isn’t the only way that volunteers can help. Restoration is needed in natural areas near the waterways. This year, teams helped remove buckthorn, honeysuckle, and garlic mustard from more than two acres.
Since adding restoration opportunities in 2009, more than 16 acres of land near waterways have been stewarded by volunteers removing invasive species.
The DuPage River Sweep is always held on a Saturday morning in May. If you'd like to lend a hand, watch our website for dates and information!