Watertown’s Charles River ‘Cleanup Boat’ celebrates 10th anniversary


By Anne Benaquist, Cleanup Boat Volunteer, Watertown TAB

A volunteer on the Cleanup Boat fishes an armchair out of the Charles River.

A volunteer on the Cleanup Boat fishes an armchair out of the Charles River.

This year the Charles River Cleanup Boat will celebrate ten years of active service keeping the river clean, and organizers hope to have many more. This is an ongoing project that will be needed as long as people discard refuse in the river.

“When we started, the trash was six inches thick against the Longfellow Bridge,” founder Tom McNichol said. He thinks people are now more conscious of littering than they were ten years ago, but there’s still plenty do. From May to October, four days a week, the 20’ motor boat goes from the Watertown Yacht Club to the Galleria Mall in Cambridge and back, while volunteers using nets on long poles pick up trash.  Typically they get two large trash bags per trip, although after holidays like the Fourth of July the haul is larger.

Most of the trash is predictable: styrofoam cups, candy wrappers, and the like. But the crew has found some surprises, such as a passport, a shopping cart, and  a statue of a Pakistani goddess.

The Cleanup boat holds up to five people. There are four captains, who each go out one day a week, and are paid a stipend. The volunteer crew members are typically families, students, retirees, or employee groups.

Mary Byrne, Director of Student Services at Seaport Academy, has been arranging for students to participate on the Cleanup Boat for years. She says volunteering makes them more aware of littering. Jonathan Burke, Vice-President of Visitor Services at the Museum of Science says, “The program is so important to the museum that it’s paying its staff to volunteer.

One year Tori Zissman, a second grade teacher at Rashi School, invited McNichol to speak to her class as part of a unit on the Charles River. Later the kids set up a volunteer fund and raised $350.

The Cleanup Boat is funded by various corporate and nonprofit donors and assisted by the Charles River and Watertown Yacht Clubs, BU and MIT.

Operating costs for the Cleanup Boat amount to about $50,000 a year, and more donations are needed. For more information go to CharlesRiverCleanupBoat.org.

Read more: Watertown’s Charles River ‘Cleanup Boat’ celebrates 10th anniversary – Watertown, MA – Watertown TAB http://www.wickedlocal.com/watertown/news/x853679398/Watertowns-Charles-River-Cleanup-Boat-celebrates-10th-anniversary#ixzz2Z8e4RTVN
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