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Decades-old refuse dredged from Alta Lake

More than 750 pounds of garbage collected at third annual great lake cleanup



At 2014's Great Lake Cleanup, organizer Roger McCarthy noticed some rusted-out propane tanks on the bottom of Alta Lake.

"I kind of wanted to get at it last year, we just weren't able to get that stuff out of the water and onto a barge," he said.

So McCarthy knew exactly where he wanted to steer his barge when the 2015 edition of the cleanup kicked off on Sunday, July 12.

Within an hour of leaving shore, McCarthy had five 100-pound propane tanks on his barge, pulled from the bottom of the lake where they've likely sat for more than half a century.

"It feels pretty good," McCarthy said. "I think the lakes are a lot cleaner today than they were on Saturday, so that's a really good thing."

Dozens of volunteers dispersed to each of Whistler's five lakes, aided once again by divers from Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans.

This year the divers helped pull 759.8 pounds of garbage from Alta and Lost Lake — a shade below the 800 pounds collected in 2014.

"I think that coming out here once a year and doing as much as we can, taking garbage out, removing foreign material from our water table, I think it's super important," said lead diver Henry Wang.

For the past two years, Wang and his team have done similar cleanup dives at about a dozen lakes around the Lower Mainland.

After diving in Alta, the divers working with McCarthy's barge told him it was one of the healthiest lakes they'd worked in.

"That really made me feel good," McCarthy said. "Obviously we've moved a lot of stuff. Next year will take us over a tonne."

While pulling decades-old refuse from the bottom of the lake — and in one case even a sunken boat — is a win for the cleanup, McCarthy thinks the education aspect is also important.

"The support from the community is great," McCarthy said.

"And I think if we raise awareness and everybody just thinks a little bit more about what they leave lying around the lake, what they leave lying on the docks, what they come with and leave with, I think that's an important piece."

With last year's target now dredged from the depths of Alta, what's on the list for next year's cleanup?

"We'll keep going, and who knows?" McCarthy said. "There might be another boat on the bottom."

To see a video from this year's Great Lake Cleanup head to