This Saturday the DuPage River Sweep will celebrate its 25th birthday. The DuPage River should feel pretty special since nearly 600 people will be showing up to its party from 9am to Noon!
The River Sweep is a county-wide cleanup of the DuPage River and its tributaries, including Salt Creek. Volunteers spread out along and in the river to pull trash and debris out of the water, and in recent years restoration activities such as removing invasive plant species and planting natives have been incorporated into the Sweep as well.
All told, nearly 11,000 volunteers have participated in the DuPage River Sweep since it began in 1991, cleaning the county’s rivers and streams of more than 251 tons — yes, tons — of garbage including rusty bicycles, car bumpers, hubcaps, and glass bottles. That’s the weight of almost TWENTY school buses!
“We have families, schools, and scouting groups that come out in all kinds of weather to pick garbage off the riverbank and out of the water,” DuPage County Program Director Jan Roehll, said. “Last year, we cleaned up about 6 tons of garbage along 97 miles of the West Branch, East Branch, and Salt Creek.”
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.
The DuPage River Sweep is made possible by generous donations from supporters including dumpsters from Waste Management, water donations from Ice Mountain for the volunteers, and also technical support, snacks, and trash pokers for volunteers to complete their work. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and numerous park districts also help by removing the trash that is collected.
We would like to thank everyone who has given of their time over the last 25 years to help the DuPage River. This is local impact at its finest; you didn’t dare even dip a toe in this waterway 25 years ago, and now it is fishable and has become a true amenity to the communities along its shores.