GREENSBURG, Pa. — Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful on Wednesday announced a new stewardship program designed to help keep commonwealth waterways clean.
The Waterway Steward Program was developed through funding from the Department of Environmental Protection's Coastal Resources Management Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Its purpose is to engage Pennsylvania water trail users in community science and build long-term stewardship of our water trails, while providing valuable data to tell the story about litter in and along our waterways.
“Being a waterway steward is easy," said Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. "Any time you are recreating in or near water, collect litter and stream health data. When you’re finished, dispose of the litter properly and report your data to us. You choose where you want to clean. It can be a different waterway each time."
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful received a $40,000 Coastal Zone Grant from the DEP Coastal Resources Management Program to establish the Waterway Steward Program and facilitate cleanups in the Delaware Estuary.
“DEP is pleased to support this innovative program to turn residents who use Pennsylvania’s streams, rivers, and lakes into stewards of these waters, helping to document and reduce the trash pollution that threatens water quality for people and aquatic life,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh, P.E.
DEP and other state agencies are working with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to foster littering prevention and litter reduction initiatives through a statewide Litter Action Plan.
The Waterway Steward program is ideal for water trail users, anglers, outdoor and waterway enthusiasts and all those who care about the health, safety and quality of Pennsylvania’s waterways.
To be a Waterway Steward, individuals must be at least 18 years of age. Stewards can conduct cleanups individually or organize their family and friends to join a cleanup.
“The impact you can have as a Waterway Steward are many," said Reiter. "Keeping our waterways free from litter and debris helps preserve the beauty of Pennsylvania’s waterways, improves water quality, enhances the health and safety of our environment, people, animals, birds and fish and protects the natural resources that we depend on for recreation and tourism."
Participants are encouraged to share stories online. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will compile and share results with the larger community and use this data to further educate Pennsylvanians about the importance of keeping our waterways clean.