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City of Columbia hosts Hinkson Clean Sweep

Kyle Winker

Golf balls, beer cans, plastic bottles and caps. 

The list goes on and on.

These are just a few of the popular items volunteers removed from local streams during the City of Columbia’s annual Hinkson Clean Sweep project on Saturday.  The City of Columbia’s Stormwater Education and Outreach Program has put on the event for the past 10 years. 

Volunteers were stationed at five different local streams in Columbia, all of which flow into the Hinkson Creek. 

A cleaner Hinkson watershed is the recurring result of the Clean Sweep, but the City of Columbia’s Stormwater Educator Mike Heimos says the event is about more than just picking up trash.

“All the cleanups that we do around Columbia on a regular are about educating the general population about people pollution,” Heimos said.  Everyday pollution you have in your life seems so minimal; one person throws a plastic bottle, or a plastic spoon, or a straw, or a plastic bag on the ground, but it all adds up.”

This year the SEOP decided to add the streets of downtown Columbia as location for volunteers to pick up trash. 

Heimos says the downtown site was added as a preventative measure to keep the trash on the streets from entering into the storm drain system before it flowed into local streams. 

All chemicals, trash and other substances that enter into city and county storm drains channel directly into local streams. 

Clean Sweep Volunteer Will McCaulley is a returning Clean Sweep volunteer and says his use of Columbia’s MKT trail is what inspires him to serve.

“I like using the trail a lot and I just can’t stand the trash out there,” McCaulley said.

The City of Columbia’s Public Works Department says more than 130 volunteers picked up more than 1.600 pounds of trash.  Additional large items were picked up that were not included in the final weight total.