Cities vie for river-cleanup title

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

By Staff
Riverkeeper Cup Challenge will make its debut April 18
Contributing Editor
In this challenge, the gloves will go on instead of coming off.
Washington Mayor Judy Meier Jennette and Greenville Mayor Pat Dunn have agreed their cities will take on each other. The challenge? Determining which city can better clean up the Pamlico-Tar River, the fourth-largest river system in the state.
The inaugural Riverkeeper Cup Challenge, set to begin at 8:30 a.m. April 18, calls for area residents to fight pollution in the river. The city that collects the most trash (by weight) that day wins the Riverkeeper Cup, which will be displayed in the winning community’s city hall.
Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Heather Jacobs Deck said the challenge is expected to “bring out a higher spirit” of competition and cooperation to clean up the river. The winner of the challenge won’t be known immediately after the cleanup ends, she said.
Among this year’s volunteers are students from Beaufort County Community College and East Carolina University, she said.
As for adding the challenge to the biannual river cleanups, Deck believes that will “make it a fun little competition.”
Jennette said David Emmerling, the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation executive director, asked her to help clean up the river this spring.
Her decision to participate in the challenge was an easy one, she said.
The City Council is aware of the challenge, she said.
Which city will win the challenge?
Greenville’s mayor didn’t back down from the challenge.
Attempts to reach Dunn for comment were unsuccessful.
The Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, based in Washington, will organize and conduct the river cleanup with assistance from volunteers in Washington and Greenville.
Washington’s volunteers will meet at the Havens Gardens boat ramp. Greenville’s volunteers will meet at the Town Commons boat ramp. Land cleanups in both cities also will take place.
Volunteers should supply their own boats, kayaks and canoes, along with life vests. A limited supply of kayaks and gloves will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a PTRF news release. Trash bags will be provided.
In 2006, volunteers removed 2,000 pounds of trash from the river, according to PTRF’s Web site. In 2007, 2,650 pounds of trash was collected, and in 2008, 2,000 pounds was collected. The trash included charcoal grills, fishing rods, historical markers, car and tractor tires, shopping carts and pesticide containers.
West of the U.S. Highway 17 bridge at Washington, the river is named the Tar River. East of that bridge, it’s known as the Pamlico River.
To sign up for the Riverkeeper Cup Challenge or for more information about the event, call PTRF at 252-946-7211.
PTRF is a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and improve the environmental quality of the Tar-Pamlico River, its watersheds and estuaries. For more information, visit
Cutline for corresponding photo: Washington Mayor Judy Meier Jennette cleans out debris Wednesday afternoon from the Pamlico River adjacent the North Carolina Estuarium. She was getting in practice for the upcoming Riverkeeper Cup Challenge against the city of Greenville. WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)