KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Four cleanups held during October helped remove 19,304 pounds of trash from the Tennessee River.

More than 200 volunteers participated in four river cleanups hosted by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful across three states this October. In total, they helped remove nearly 10 tons of trash from the Tennessee River. According to KTNRB, this year’s cleanup for ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ had a record volunteer turnout with volunteer support jumping 54% from last year’s record of 130 volunteers at six cleanups.

“Turnout for our cleanups has been phenomenal—it’s almost as if the volunteer support for the Tennessee River has gone viral, but in real life,” said Kathleen Gibi, KTNRB Executive Director. “In a time when neighboring river systems are suffering loss from drought, I think people are realizing how precious our water is, and they’re coming out in masses to our cleanups because they see they have the power to make a significant, tangible difference.”

Of the trash removed at these four cleanups, 201 volunteers helped to remove 626 bags of litter and 60 tires, among many other items. Here are each cleanup’s totals:

  • Knoxville, TN (Fort Loudoun Lake) | 5,763 lbs. | 49 volunteers
  • Chattanooga, TN (Chickamauga Lake) | 2,873 lbs. | 65 volunteers
  • Counce, TN/Iuka, MS (Pickwick Lake) | 4,341 lbs. | 59 volunteers
  • Benton, KY (Kentucky Lake) | 6,327 lbs. | 28 volunteers

“Oris was thrilled to partner with Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful for four cleanup events throughout 2022,” said V.J. Geronimo – CEO North America, Oris. “Working with hundreds of volunteers and Oris enthusiasts to clean up nearly five tons of trash was enriching and most of all, impactful. Looking forward to continuing our collaboration as part of our Change For The Better program.”

In addition to Oris’ sponsorship, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Nobody Trashes Tennessee litter prevention campaign, and Keep Tennessee Beautiful have helped to fund ‘Keep the Tennessee River Watershed Beautiful Month’ since it began in 2018. This year’s cleanups were held in partnership with the national nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters, who brought their 30-foot workboats to supplement KTNRB’s two workboats.

“Our growing volunteer base is a force that’s truly inspiring, and what’s really encouraging is that many of them are continuing their own cleanup efforts after we move on to the next town,” said Gibi. “They’re making actual change for our waterways possible, and it’s an honor to get to work with so many enthusiastic change-makers every day!”

So far in 2022, KTNRB removed 104,997 lbs. of trash from the TN river through the efforts of 489 volunteers. Gibi said support from local, state and national partners for the series has helped increase attendance this year. Since the nonprofit began in 2016, KTNRB has rallied nearly 3,000 volunteers to remove over 435,000 lbs. of trash. Gibi said they are a long way from their initial years of removing around 15,000 lbs. a year.

To view the river cleanup schedule, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org. The next cleanup is scheduled for March/April 2023 in Jasper, Tennessee.