Merri-smack River Overflowing With Dirty Needles, Trash And Pollution
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With the amount of snow and rain we’ve had dumped on us in Massachusetts this past week the Merrimack River water levels are crazy high right now. All that lovely, brown stank-water is washing up TONS of junk onto the riverbanks along the lower Merrimack which runs from the New Hampshire line to Newburyport. It’s no exaggeration when I say that you can stand at any point on the river and watch as trash and waste goes floating by. Some people have sailboats, but in Lawrence we have wet garbage because we’re classy as hell. The Merrimack river was polluted by factories in the heavily populated mill cities for years with dyes, chemical runoff and millions of gallons of human sewage being dumped into the water a day. YUM.
Luckily, Rocky Morrison and his team of Volunteers at The Clean River Project have been working their asses off for over 10 years to clean up the shorelines. They have pulled THOUSANDS of old tires out of the water and have used heavy equipment to drag out almost 100 cars and trucks from the riverbed, some still having keys or screwdrivers in the ignitions after being stolen decades ago or dumped for insurance fraud. Because nothing says Lawrence like rolling a jacked Honda off the boat ramp.
The Clean River Project has been a non-profit organization since it’s start in 2005, relying on donations for things like boat upkeep, fuel, dumpsters and the cost of debris removal but this year Rocky and his crew have an even bigger task at hand. It should come as no surprise that the amount of drug use and drug related crime has continued to skyrocket in Essex County. In 2016 there were almost 2,000 deaths due to heroin and fentanyl overdoses in Massachusetts. There have been multiple drug busts producing significant amounts of recovered narcotics being exchanged between New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. The result? A DISGUSTING amount of used needles and drug paraphernalia are being found in the river, on it’s shorelines and trails. They’re everywhere.
In addition to the demand to clean up the water, there is another job that needs to be tackled immediately in multiple cities. Homeless camps along the river are riddled with trash, broken furniture, old tents, syringes and other hazardous waste that needs to go. Places like Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell have been struggling with the homeless population residing along the riverbanks for what seems like an eternity. It even resulted in a fire and large power outage in 2012 when a campfire under a Lawrence bridge got out of control and destroyed electrical cables. In 2013 Lowell decided they were going to shut down the tent cities, requiring the squatters to either vacate the area or accept placement into housing through a city program. Some agreed to be processed but most relocated or returned once the police left.
Home sweet home, no?
Check out Rocky’s video showing the camps and amount of needles that are all over the place.
**NOTE: NEVER ATTEMPT TO PICK UP OR DISCARD HYPODERMIC NEEDLES! CALL THE POLICE FOR DISPOSAL**
The Clean River Project is ready to take on the job of cleaning up the various camps along the river but the cost to do so is more than the non-profit can raise on their own. They have asked the 15 cities that border the river for their help by contributing donations to fund the cleanup.
The cities that would comprise the Merrimack River Coalition are Andover, Amesbury, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newburyport, North Andover, Salisbury, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and West Newbury. Their objectives are listed below.
In addition to trapping a ton of crap floating down the river, the booms in place will provide more information as to which towns and cities are producing more pollution and discarded syringes. Funding would be $18,000 per city and Lawrence, Newburyport and Lowell, are on board so far. The conditions of the water and shorelines is also a concern as half of the towns on the list get all or some of their drinking water from the Merrimack. So all of those dirty needles, condoms, tampons and trash are floating around in the water we use everyday.
Yup. Let that sink in…
Listen I know water is processed through treatment facilities but that makes me want to crawl out of my skin. You treat swimming pools with chlorine to kill germs but that doesn’t mean I want to swim around with my eyes open underwater if someone took a dump in the shallow end.
For more information check out The Clean River Project’s Facebook page, share this post or sign their petition to get the word out. I think what they’re doing is awesome and I truly hope that more cities sign up to help fund their efforts. Lord knows the Mingya Valley needs it.
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