Sunday, April 18, 2004

Don't tip canoe on Mill Creek cleanup

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The 10th annual Mill Creek Cleanup by Canoe needs volunteers Saturday to navigate and pick up trash along the Mill Creek, one of the most polluted streams in the nation.

This year's cleanup will focus on the stretch of creek that runs through Reading, Lockland and Arlington Heights.

The event starts at 9:30 a.m. at Koenig Park in Reading.

The "Mill Creek Yacht Club," more a running gag than an official organization, is a group of enthusiasts who enjoy regular canoe outings on the stream and is coordinating the cleanup.

Bruce Koehler, the self-proclaimed "commodore" of the group, says people with weakened immune systems or open cuts shouldn't take part in the cleanup, because Mill Creek water can have high levels of fecal coliform bacteria and other pathogens, especially within three days of a heavy rain. Still, he said, there are at least three reasons everyone else should participate.

"The pay is zero, the weather is iffy and the working conditions are worse than what chain gangs endure," he said. "But the camaraderie is great and the feeling of accomplishment is real. And we'll have highly coveted 'Mill Creek Yacht Club' T-shirts for all the volunteers."

Koehler said the group won't canoe more than two miles, "but it will feel like more." Volunteers should wear waterproof waders or boots to minimize contact with the water. Waterproof gloves and life jackets will be provided, along with germicidal gel and first-aid kits. For more information, call Koehler at 621-6300, ext. 112.


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