One gorgeous autumn morning, two VT ECOAmeriCorps volunteers ventured out for some brook cleanup efforts. Their goal? To clean up a 200-meter section of the Rugg Brook river corridor.

The Rugg Brook is located in the middle of the commercial district of St. Albans, and adjacent to the industrial park. The location results in heavy traffic and considerable waste.

Thomas Bryce (Outreach and Project Coordinator, FNLC) and Brodie Haenke (Watershed Technician, FWC / MRBA) got wet and dirty when wading into the brook.

Litter Strewn Throughout the Waterway

The Rugg Brook was littered with items like:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Household trash
  • Scrap metal
  • Hazardous sharps (contact police for assistance with these items)

Not only do brook cleanup efforts make a direct impact on water quality, but it improves the appearance of the corridor.

As a result, and in only two hours, they collected approximately 100 lbs of waste. Without the Rugg Brook cleanup, the rubbish would’ve otherwise ended up downstream and eventually into Lake Champlain.

Brook Cleanup is Imperative

Rugg Brook Cleanup Efforts
Brodie Haenke, Watershed Technician (FWC / MRBA)

Improperly disposed garbage and organic waste can pose many chemical and biological threats to the wildlife and quality of a natural ecosystem.

In 2014, the Rozalia Project released a study finding more than 7 billion pieces of marine debris in Lake Champlain.

Ultimately, garbage and organic waste trickle in from waterways like Rugg Brook. Then, much of the marine debris is plastics in concentrated areas where the currents naturally flow.

This cleanup was only a small percentage of debris and only one waterway in Vermont. Although, one piece of garbage removed at a time is a big step in the right direction to improving the quality of life around the Lake Champlain Basin Watershed.

Since 2015, it is illegal to dispose of garbage and waste in its waterways in Vermont. Despite the change in the law, we continue to see considerable amounts of trash disposed of near river corridors.

You Can Help Waterway Cleanup Efforts

We encourage all citizens to participate in waterway cleanup efforts whenever you see it.

You might consider taking a few hours one weekend and visiting a favorite water area where you can collect then correctly dispose of the garbage littering VT streams, lakes, and watersheds.

Working on projects like this, becoming a citizen of change, we can improve the health of Vermont waterways and Lake Champlain.