Volunteers remove 15 tons of trash from Tennessee River

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168691309 4048180571871818 2861942263530178348 nThis photo provided by Ijams Nature Center is an example of the plethora of weird things removed from the Tennessee River and its tributaries during the annual River Rescue held March 27. 

Mattresses, rocking horse and plastic shed among the stranger items retrieved from area waterways

Volunteers removed 31,000 pounds from the Tennessee River and its watersheds on March 27 during the 32nd annual Ijams River Rescue despite a storm system that dropped several inches of heavy rain on the area.

The rain dissuaded some of the 717 volunteers signed up for the river rescue, but nearly 500 people still joined together to collect trash from 32 sites. Their nasty haul included 919 bags of garbage and 82 tires, according to a release from Ijams Nature Center

The heavy rain actually worked out somewhat in organizers' favor, as debris and flotsam were flushed from tributaries into the main stem of the river.

“Heavy rain always means more trash because the rising waters wash everything downstream and into the Tennessee River,” Ijams Volunteer Coordinator Madelyn Collins said in the news release. “We are so appreciative to everyone who braved the storms and did the work while they could. It was amazing how much volunteers accomplished in such a short time.”

One lucky participant found a $50 bill; other unusual items removed from the river included a toilet, a recliner, mattresses, a rocking horse, plastic shed and a baby stroller.

"The takeaway from this year’s event—and every other cleanup this community does—is that we need to be more careful about how we dispose of trash and recyclables. If you don't put it where it belongs, it ends up in our water.”

Tennessee Valley Authority; city of Knoxville Stormwater Engineering; Bio Plumbing, LLC; First Horizon Foundation; Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency; WestRock CP, LLC; Genera, Inc.; Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union; Waste Connections of Tennessee Inc.; CAC AmeriCorps; and the Water Quality Forum sponsored, supported or participated in the annual cleanup.

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