Preserving and protecting the environment by cleaning up the river

Cleaning up the South Chickamauga Creek and keeping the banks clean is an annual activity in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As the Surface Chemistry site borders the river our employees regularly participate in clean-up projects to remove debris. In October 2013 a 5 member volunteering team encountered a log jam preventing further canoeing of the creek. The log jam was formed by fallen trees across the creek caused by higher than normal summer rainfall, making this portion of the creek impassable. With support from the Community Program the necessary equipment could be rented to remove the large limbs and trees.

As another logjam had existed for several years in the creek near Camp Jordan several miles upstream of the Chattanooga site, our volunteering colleagues decided to continue their support in 2014. From the SCCGA (South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance) they had learned that without human intervention, it would continue to exist and worsen. The logjam allowed floating debris to accumulate behind it. Over time, the debris collection had grown and made it nearly impossible for canoes to manoeuver around the debris.

In close collaboration with the SCCGA a plan was devised to remove the logjam. The project consisted of cutting up and spreading the cuttings in various locations in the surrounding wooded area. Participants included local governmental agencies and their employees as well. Plans also called for placing a floating boom to catch the debris that might be released after the trees were cut. Since safety was a prime concern, the tree cutting in the water had to be done by professionals, which was supported with funds from the Community Program. Our volunteering employees placed the floating boom in the creek, collected the debris and removed everything that was collected from the previous clean-up efforts. It was hard work, but as the team had expanded to 25 employees and also other residents were involved in the clean-up, they managed to finish the removal of the logjam and spread the cuttings in the area.

South Chickamauga Creek waters enter the Tennessee River, a major river that flows very near the Chattanooga site. The location also has a major dam along the river. Wildlife is easily seen if one were to walk or canoe along the creek. The federally protected snail darter exists in South Chickamauga Creek and the Brainerd Levee area plays host as a significant flyway for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The community takes pride in keeping its rivers, streams and lakes clean, and our colleagues from Surface Chemistry were equally proud for doing their part.

Removal of the logjam while retaining the cuttings at the site to maintain the local eco-system has provided the community with unrestricted access to the creek for canoeing and other recreational activities. Moreover, this activity has fostered the wildlife and has eliminated a source of accumulation of debris in the creek. This sustainable contribution was highly valued by the local community in Chattanooga. In the local media much attention was paid to the clean-up activity and well deserved praise and compliments were handed out to our committed colleagues.