And they had a little help: The Tennessee Valley Authority provided up to $5,000 to cover trash bags, gloves, litter grabbers, refreshments and more to groups of volunteers who organized a cleanup date.
The Reservoir and Community Clean Up fund supports organizers’ efforts to keep the waters fresh and ready for lake-goers.
“This is public land and water,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. “This is community property, if you will. We all have a stake in ensuring it’s preserved.
“TVA and cleanup organizers are making sure these great natural wonders are preserved for our children, grandchildren and millions who visit every year. Obviously, the environmental aspect is important, but there’s also an economic impact that shouldn’t be ignored.”
Yes, he said millions. According to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s agriculture institute, for every one mile of shoreline, there are one million visitors per year. The entirety of Tennessee Valley’s shoreline yields $12 billion of economic impact every year. That includes food, boat rentals and other expenditures.
With the millions of people who will spend a day at the lake this year, the reservoirs are susceptible to litter.
“Sadly, we found that some people who use these reservoirs aren’t as conscientious of being clean,” Hopson said. “We’ve got plastic floating in the water. . . These voluntary efforts get the community involved to ensure everyone can continue to enjoy the treasure we have here in the Tennessee Valley.”
The clean-up funds stem from the sale of electricity.
“All of the funds we use for all of our operations come from the sale of power,” Hopson said. “A lot of people don’t realize that although we are part of the federal government, we receive no tax money or funds.”
In 2017, TVA granted $155,000 to 68 groups and organizations who combined efforts to ensure the waters remained clean and safe.
Anyone can organize a group of volunteers to help rid Tennessee Valley’s lakes of debris and garbage. Requests should be submitted on letterhead detailing the name, date and location of the event with a list of supplies for purchase and the total amount requested. The request should include contact information, including mailing address and the group’s IRS EIN, or Tax ID, number. Once requests are approved, groups sign a letter of agreement with TVA.
Funds are limited, and there is a $5,000 limit per year, per organization from the RCC fund. Requests should be emailed to RCC Program Manager Martha Podren at email@example.com.