Residents urged to take part in St. Johns River cleanup

Published On: Mar 11 2013 02:31:03 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 15 2013 02:54:21 PM EDT
16th Annual River Cleanup
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The city of Jacksonville is asking residents to help take part in cleaning up one of its biggest assets -- the St. Johns River.

Mayor Alvin Brown says the river is critical for the city's economy and culture.

On Saturday, volunteers will clean up the banks of the river, removing all the trash that has gathered there.

More than 1,000 people took part last year in the river cleanup, picking up more than a ton of trash.

Brown and others are urging more people to get involved because they say this river is safe and people need to enjoy it. Yet there are still problems that plague the St. Johns -- tributaries that contain fecal matter, septic tanks that leak, and the fear that algae that has appeared in past summers will return again.

"I think the most important thing is making sure we keep it clean," Brown said. "We do everything we can to protect the St. Johns River. We keep investing in the St. Johns River. I think people getting out in the community and enjoying the river is part of that as well. When you do that and educate people and inform them that it is safe and you can go out here, I think it makes a big difference."

In the past, that meant publicity stunts like one in 1977, when former Mayor Hans Tanzler water-skied on the river to show it was safe and clean.

Brown has taken to the waters in a different way. Last year he canoed as a way to highlight new kayak launches.

But would he be willing to get wet and ski in the river like Tanzler?

"You never know. You never know," Brown said. "I would do it. I would do it, Jim Piggott. I would ski on the St. Johns River."

There are a number of locations where residents can go to get involved with the cleanup. They can be found on the city's website.