Kirkwood, MO (KSDK) - Thousands of pounds of trash and debris are now out of the Meramec River thanks to Saturday's Operation Clean Stream.
"We have been successful in turning what was shaping up to be a major environmental disaster 45 years ago into an annual event that educates people about the value of our rivers and streams in the St. Louis area," Executive Director of Open Space Council for the St. Louis region.
Katie Tracy and her crew spent their Saturday morning on the river.
"We're just individuals that come out and help clean the streams... also the creeks. We make sure things are picked up, mostly heavy metal," she said.
A few Army National Guardsmen helped them get their 1,200 pound haul out of the river.
"Some of the things that we found today were old bed frames, including the springs. We found metal table legs, lots of pipes, rebar, metal stairs. It comes in all shapes and sizes," Tracy says. "Normally what we do is scrap it in. So not only are we helping clean up the area, but we're helping recycle."
"Nearly 200,000 people alone derive their drinking water from right here in this area, Northern Jefferson County and south St. Louis. So people have to understand that the water in this river is flowing right into their homes, their kitchen, their bathroom, and they're brushing their teeth and taking showers with the water that comes out of this river," Coleman adds.
Coleman says education is key to keeping it clean.
"If people develop good habits about what they do in their homes, we're going to have a lot less problems on public lands and public waterways like we're trying to clean up here on the Meramec."
The group's work isn't done yet. Sunday, volunteers will be at Ozark Outdoors in Leesburg to clean up the tributaries there.