Mara Hartmann and her husband, Patrick, glided through gentle waters below the Spillway. As they floated along, they snagged trash from the water and packed it back to shore. Nearby, Xiaohua Wu and his son, Ryan, picked their way carefully among the rocks, bagging discarded fishing line and soft drink bottles.
“You’d be amazed at what people throw out or leave behind down here,” said Jerry Tanner, an Entergy employee who helped organize the volunteer event. “We’ve collected bags and bags of trash, and we’re only cleaning a small section of the river. Imagine this problem multiplied all the way up and down the Pearl.”
Downstream, other Entergy employees were pulling everything from crumpled fast food containers to abandoned folding chairs from the banks and waters of the Pearl. Chris and Ben, two officers from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, navigated gingerly along the shoreline, collecting the bagged trash and dropping it off at a centralized dumpster. In between trips, they good-naturedly reminded boaters to wear their life vests.
“This has been a team effort, and I’m so glad we’ve gotten everyone involved,” said Jeannine May of Keep the Rez Beautiful. “Our primary mission has always been to collaborate with others in reducing litter and beautifying the reservoir area. Today’s event is a good example of that.”
Entergy employees participated as part of the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The company’s accomplishments in economic, environmental and social performance were recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Indices in 2013.
“At Entergy, we’re not only dedicated to the environment in big ways, like promoting clean and efficient energy generation and use, but in small ways, too, like picking up litter,” added Tanner. “We thought today would be a fun way to get out and help. We’re getting a chance to enjoy the area and have fun with each other.”
The reservoir area has a big impact on central Mississippi’s residents and ecosystem. The reservoir itself supplies drinking water to more than 150,000 people. It also serves as an attraction for recreation. In addition, the area provides aquatic habitats, and migratory birds take shelter along its shorelines.
Volunteers capped off a morning of good work with a delicious lunch (donated by Sweet Peppers Deli) and door prize giveaways. And behind them, they left a glistening section of the Pearl River, clean and bright and ready for everyone to enjoy.