24 March, 2015

A load of old rubbish!

Recently I have been getting out on the river to paddle as often as I can while the weather holds and several of my recent posts reflect this. What they do not reflect however, is the amount of rubbish I see floating in the river.
I looked at the topic of pollution in this post over three years ago but at that stage I didn't have the kayak and so was only able to view from the bank. Now however, I can get out amongst it and see for myself. In general, it doesn't look too bad - especially out of town, however there is still a significant amount of junk which seems to be ending up (either deliberately or by chance) in the Barwon.
Near Princes Bridge, 2013. I doubt this was unintentional
Recently, when I do paddle, I have taken as I am heading back to my starting point (I usually paddle out and back), to grabbing a few pieces of rubbish and tossing them in the back of the kayak to be disposed of in a handy bin once I am back on land. It's not much, but I figure it's better than nothing and it has occurred to me recently to wonder whether others could be convinced to do likewise, either on the water or along the riverbanks as they walk, ride or paddle.
Nor is it only the Barwon which suffers. The photo below is an example of rubbish collected from the banks of the Moorabool River at Fyansford over the space of an hour or so by a couple of dozen enthusiastic geocachers in late 2013.
Junk collected from the banks of the Moorabool River at Fyansford
The type and size of the rubbish seems to depend to some extent on where on the river I am. Through town - particularly at the bottom of the rowing mile, plastic water bottles and reusable drink bottles are quite common whilst up towards Queen's Park, balls and plastic bottles are the thing. I can only assume that some of the Newtown/Highton fur babies are not quite as keen to retrieve balls from the river as their owners feel they should be.
Above Baum's Weir, the junk takes on a slightly differTent composition. The area around Merrawarp Road Bridge can at various times be a hangout for drug users (as the graffiti attests). Perhaps it is not surprising then that the junk around this area and further downstream often includes glass bottles - generally beer or spirits. Somewhat strangely, it also seems to be a collecting point for lone shoes. I've found several up to now.
Bottles, shoes and plastic
I am unsure whether there is a direct connection between the bottles and the shoes - perhaps, once the bottles are empty, the owners become less concerned about the welfare of their shoes, resulting in several shoe drownings. There are also a few larger items up this way which are too big for me to dispose of using the kayak. These include a milk crate, a bed roll/yoga mat, several 44 gallon drums (which used to belong to a raft which featured on an earlier post in this blog) and somewhat strangely, a large gas bottle of the type used to supply houses not connected to the mains. The latter I was pleased to note on Sunday, had been removed onto the bank at the bottom of Gully Road.
44 gallon drums, once part of a raft
Currently, back near the weir are a pillow and a child's foam couch. On one occasion I spotted a metallic suitcase on the bottom of the river. It has since disappeared.
On my most recent paddle, I was feeling enthusiastic, so came back with quite a load. This time it included the usual bottles - both plastic and glass -, polystyrene chunks, a waterlogged soccer ball, a tennis ball and a large wad of Target catalogues which it seems were delivered en masse into the Barwon instead of their intended destination.
Sunday's haul
I also noticed during a recent ride that several large pieces of rubbish have been dumped at the Breakwater and at that time, the only action taken was to put tape across the various items declaring that they were illegally dumped rubbish. I have also noticed in recent years since the authorities removed several smaller bins and replaced them with more centrally-located larger bins that a number of dog-walkers deem it okay to bag their dog's droppings and leave the bags in a pile where the old bins used to be. I suspect this act of rebellion - if that is what it is - is lost on the authorities.
Meanwhile, I will continue to grab what I can and who knows, maybe the idea will catch on...

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