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Watershed Event

A kayaking group of friends, led by Joan Maloney, traversed the Maurice River on cleanup day.
Marya Mazzeo and her dog Kenobi, left, helped the cleanup along the Union Lake Boat ramp.

The Cumberland County Clean Communities program recently hosted its 29th Annual Waterways Cleanup, sponsored by The Authority. The event occurs every October, promoting the goal of keeping Cumberland County beautiful and local waterways and coastlines free of litter that may harm wildlife and create pollution.

The Waterways Cleanup was held in conjunction with the annual Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), hosted by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council. The ICC is a global event where volunteers worldwide clean litter and debris from lakes, rivers, streams, bays, and beaches. The Authority provided t-shirts, gloves, trash bags, and trash pickup after the event to ensure proper disposal of all materials collected.

With the help of The Authority and the Cumberland County Clean Communities program, a total of 86 people volunteered this year. Groups and single individuals joined in to support the 29th annual event.

• A kayaking group, led by Joan Maloney, traversed the Maurice River removing litter from the banks and riverbed.

• The Downe Township Green Team tackled Fortescue, Money Island, and Gandy’s Beach extracting waste from all the locations.

• The Cohansey Area Watershed scoured the upper tidal area of the Cohansey River, while the Citizens United of the Maurice River and its Tributaries cleaned Millville’s Waltman Park.

• Alliance Beach was made pristine once again by students from the CCTEC Interact Club.

• The DeFrancisco/D’Agostino/Racano family made Clarks Pond sparkle.

• Bill and Lisa Morrison cleaned along Bacons Neck and Gum Tree Corner fishing bridges.

• Marya Mazzeo cleaned Union Lake Boat ramp, with the help of her dog, Kenobi.

• Albert Giampietro Memorial Park in Vineland and Sunset Lake in Bridgeton also got cleaned by individual volunteers.

DeFrancisco/D’Agostino/Racano family made Clarks Pond sparkle.

During this event, volunteers collected 2.18 tons (4,806 pounds) of litter and recyclables. Visualize a baby elephant, it weighs approximately 264 pounds. During the waterways cleanup the volunteers picked up the equivalent of 18 baby elephants. In addition, a total of 33 auto tires, and three large tractor trailer tires were removed from our waterway areas.Tires are a breeding ground for mosquitos and insects which cause public heath illnesses.

Included in the items collected were plastic bags, plastic straws, take out containers, toys, bottles, cans, and dirty diapers. Many of these items will soon be prohibited thanks to New Jersey’s upcoming single-use plastic ban.

Single-use plastic products are one of the greatest threats to the world’s oceans, environment, and health. The single-use plastic ban in New Jersey goes into effect on May 4, 2022. The law prevents litter and encourages the use of reusable bags by phasing out single-use plastic and paper bags. The law also bans polystyrene foam food containers. The law prohibits businesses from providing these single-use plastic items to their customers. Single-use plastic straws are also included in the ban and will be available “by request only” in restaurants starting November 4, 2021.

Alliance Beach was cleaned by the CCTEC Interact Club.

“It is heartbreaking to see the littering and dumping throughout our county and in our waterways. This is truly a rewarding event, which helps to preserve and protect our limited environmental resources,” says Emma Nolan, Cumberland County Clean Communities coordinator. “The volunteers in Cumberland County care a great deal about these areas and have made a huge impact with their efforts. I could never thank them enough for the time they put into our cleanups.”

For more information on Cumberland County’s Clean Communities Program, administered by The Authority, contact Emma Nolan, at or at 856-825-3700, ext. 1270. If you or someone you know would like to volunteer in a cleanup of any size, contact Nolan.