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Volunteers 'making a lot of ground' on Great Lake Clean Up

Two truckloads of trash removed from waterways



Roger McCarthy, organizer of the Great Lake Clean Up, has an ambitious goal for the annual volunteer effort to clean up Whistler's waterways.

"I think we're making a lot of ground on it and what I hope is it eventually gets to be really boring," he said.

Judging from the finds — or lack thereof — on Sunday, July 10, the cleanup already seems to be headed in that direction. Now in its fourth year, McCarthy said volunteers turn up less and less trash each year — roughly two truckloads this past weekend — from the depths of Alta, Alpha, Nita, Lost and Green lakes.

"One of the critical things we've done is we've changed the level of awareness, and what's surprising is that places we've cleaned up in prior years really don't have much stuff on the bottom," he added.

Some of the larger items remain, however, such as the remnants of an old lumber mill on Alta Lake that will require some heavy machinery in order to be removed. But there is still the rare interesting treasure, like a pair of disintegrating shorts containing a wallet with $100 cash and ID that a volunteer discovered at Lost Lake. North Vancouver diver John Webb hopes to reunite the wallet with its original owner, an Australian citizen named Benjamin Winding.

"It was a pair of shorts with his wallet, his cell phone, lighter and sunglasses,' Webb said. "He had a bad day."

Webb volunteers with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans, a volunteer group that lends a hand to cleanup efforts in lakes and rivers across B.C. This is the third year the group has pitched in for the Great Lake Clean Up, thanks in part to $2,000 in support from the municipality.

The River of Golden Dreams was added to the cleanup efforts this year after McCarthy and other residents became increasingly concerned with the level of litter left in the popular waterway by river users.

"You know, I think it needs to get (cleaned) on a regular basis," McCarthy said of the busy recreational site.

Approximately 20 volunteers, including 10 divers, pitched in for this year's Great Lake Clean Up.