The City encourages individuals, businesses and organizations to volunteer for the Adopt-A-Stream program to clean up litter from City waterways. Volunteers will maintain a section of a local stream on a regular basis for at least one year and help educate area residents and businesses on how to help control litter.
"Not all litter is caused by so-called litterbugs," said Erin Kubicek, Water Quality Educator with the City's Watershed Management Division of Public Works and Utilities. "About half of all litter found in or near our streams and lakes is the result of accidental or unintentional littering. In most cases, it's nearly impossible to determine who's behind a single piece of litter collected during a stream cleanup. But sometimes, the answers are there if you know where to look."
Kubicek said some volunteer groups become "stormwater sleuths" and help to track down the source of litter. One Adopt-A-Stream group found a shipping label attached to a plastic bag that was similar to plastic bags found during previous cleanups. They traced the items to a nearby business and relayed their findings to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Health officials spoke with the business and determined that the litter was the result of packaging materials accidentally blowing away while merchandise was unloaded in the parking lot.
"Thanks to the volunteers' investigative work, the Health Department was able to use the opportunity to educate the business about litter prevention and develop a plan to secure packing materials more effectively in the future," Kubicek said.
Hundreds of pounds of litter are collected each year by volunteers in adopted stream sections throughout the City. Groups are asked to conduct at least two stream cleanup events each year. Stream cleanup events typically last two to three hours, depending on the size of the area and the number of volunteers participating. The City Stream Cleanup Coordinator can provide groups with trash bags, reflective vests, gloves and other supplies. When a volunteer group adopts a stream, a sign is posted in recognition of the group's commitment.
Those interested in adopting a stream should contact Kubicek at 402-441-4959 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those currently conducting cleanup efforts on their own are urged to contact Kubicek so that their efforts can be recognized. More information, including a list of streams in greatest need of adoption, can be found at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: stream).