Volunteers pitch in to clean creek

Sarah Lawson

Drought has caused the trash in Waller Creek to become more visible, but volunteers used the opportunity to fight the garbage this weekend with a creek cleanup day.

Waller Creek is a small piece of nature that runs through campus, and because of its location in an urban setting, many pollutants are present. The Environmental Health and Safety committee and the Texas Natural Science Center co-sponsored the biannual clean up. Carin Peterson, training and outreach coordinator of Environmental Health and Safety, said the creek needed to be cleaned while it was still low enough so volunteers could reach the majority of the trash.

“Every year, we clean twice a year in the spring and fall,” Peterson said. “This fall, we have about 35 volunteers helping clean up the creek. Luckily, the creek is low. If it were higher, it would be harder to pick up the trash.”

Some students chose to volunteer independently while others came as members of an organization to support the cause. Geology junior Alan Czepinski said he easily made the choice to come out and volunteer for creek cleanup.

“What motivated me to come out and clean is when I ride by on my bike every day and look down at the creek, it is always so dirty, and I wanted to help out the UT community,” Czepinski said. “Plus, they make it so easy for you by providing the gloves and buckets. All you have to do is show up.”

Members of organizations such as undeclared freshman Julian Adame said the creek is an important part of campus that needs to be taken care of.

“The creek is a part of the campus too, and it is nice to see good landscaping,” Adame said. “Our pre-med society, [Alpha Epsilon Delta], is doing this, so we decided to come out and support the cause. The craziest thing we found so far is underwear. We found three pairs so far, and they are not in good shape.”

Most volunteers stayed out of the water and used tongs to pick up trash. However, McKenzie Henry, safety coordinator for Environmental Health and Safety, put on rubber boot waders and grabbed the trash settled at the bottom of the creek where other volunteers couldn’t reach.

“There are newspapers and cups down here in the middle of the creek,” Henry said. “I think when it rains, since the ground is mostly rock, a lot of stuff gets washed down here. Also, the storm drains don’t help. Everyone should help keep campus beautiful by volunteering.”

Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011 as: Volunteers benefit from drought, remove trash from campus creek