Shore Sweep 2020

Tony Cato of Cato Marine Repair brought equipment and his crew to Aqualand Marina during this year’s Shore Sweep – Photo by Cynthia Cochran

In spite of – or maybe because of – the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Shore Sweep nearly broke the record for the weight of trash, garbage and debris collected at Lake Lanier on the last Saturday of September.

Or perhaps the cause was several large storms, including the remnants of two hurricanes that resulted in even more trash on the shorelines of the lake. Then again, it could have been the inordinately high water levels from rainfall last spring.

“Whatever the reason, we actually tied the record – 80 tons – for the weight of the most trash collected in a single Shore Sweep event,” said Bonny Putney, Lake Lanier Association board member, who has chaired Shore Sweep for the past two decades. “Although we’re never glad to see trash and garbage in and around the lake, we are always grateful for our more than 1,100 volunteers who show up faithfully to make a  difference.”

Large dock floats comprise the majority of the weight of trash removed from the lake.  “We are seeing an additional problem with Styrofoam breaking down into small pieces,” Putney said. “Plus, anywhere large tributaries come into the lake is an area that attracts smaller trash and debris. When the lake rises and falls, this smaller trash is deposited along the shorelines.

“Being aware of these trouble areas and finding them is the key to getting these locations cleaned up,” she said. “Additionally, staff from Gwinnett County Water Resources walked the face of Buford Dam and were able to remove a lot of debris that had been left as the water receded this past winter.”

“This year’s event was a huge success,” said Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the association.

“In a pandemic, the Lake Lanier community showed up and showed out. Lake Lanier Association could not do it alone. It takes everyone from individual volunteers to businesses donating their time and equipment along with area nonprofits and governments working together to make Shore Sweep a success.”

The War Hill area had the highest amount of trash topping out at 26.67 tons. Balus Creek and Aqualand both had higher than normal amounts of trash collected, most likely because of the storms that went through the area at the end of the summer.

“Keep Forsyth Beautiful is a wonderful partner on Shore Sweep and they consistently, year over year have the most volunteers at Bald Ridge Marina,” Flowers said. “They are followed closely by War Hill and Port Royale.”

The association has already set the date for the 2021 Shore Sweep: September 25.

In the meantime, the association requests that if people see areas with excess debris, email a photo and a pin drop to the group at
Membership levels begin at $50 for an individual or family. Business sponsorships are also available.

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