The Quinnipiac River is cleaner than it has been in a long time, but it remains an ongoing battle and there’s a long way to go.
Source-to-Sound Clean-Up Coordinator Shianne Cutler, with the Quinnipiac River Watershed, is relentless in her efforts to organize volunteer clean-up events, held twice a year in various towns located along the river’s route.
This year, a Cheshire clean-up has been added to the targeted sites.
The Source-to-Sound Clean-Up has netted hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash from the Quinnipiac River, improving the river’s health, since the event began back in the 1980s.
Clean-ups are held in the fall and spring, and the original volunteer effort has spread from the QRWA Headquarters site on Oregon Road in Meriden to multiple locations along the Quinnipiac River, including Plainville, Southington, New Haven, North Haven’s Tidal Marsh, Wallingford and now, Cheshire.
The Cheshire clean-up will take place at the canoe launch at Rt. 322 on the Southington-Cheshire line, on Saturday, April 21, hosted by the Cheshire Land Trust (which has extensive frontage along the Quinnipiac River).
Cutler, a software analyst by day, has volunteered with QRWA for many years, and is passionate about the environment. She is instrumental to getting the clean-up stations located and manned with volunteers. “We normally scout sites a month or two before the scheduled event,” she explained. “From there we make a list of the worst locations – listing the types of items we visually see: bottles, tires, chip bags, et cetera, and take pictures. We also start looking for clean-up coordinators to assist.”
Cutler puts up flyers, sends emails and uses social media to reach “anyone that will listen.”
Last year, Cutler guided Plainville’s Trumbull Park location effort, because she wanted to get the area cleaned up for the youngsters who use that park.
She was overwhelmed by the volunteers’ hard work.
“What I didn’t expect is having a group of awesome high school kids show up. They even found an oil tank in part of the river. All of the kids worked together, tossing out ideas on how to remove this giant tank from the river,” Cutler said.
Unfortunately, the group was unable to remove it, but their effort was commendable.
The Plainville clean-up, held last fall, included students from Plainville High School. PHS Science Department Instructional Leader Paris Godbout, a Cheshire resident, said about 30 kids came out for that clean-up. Many who volunteered were from the Environmental Science class, but Godbout said she encourages all students to lend a hand.
“We participate because we think it’s important in the science department to teach and model for students the importance of preserving our local resources,” Godbout said.