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Pelham tired of tires
River Cleanup trash.jpg
Tires continue to be a prominent item pulled from local waterways during the Rotary Club’s annual river cleanup. Pictured is one pile of trash from the most recent cleanup held July 20.

You could say it makes for a tired river system. 

Are people illegally dumping tires in Warren County’s rivers? McMinnville Water Department director Anthony Pelham said during a McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that all indications point to yes.

“During the Saturday, July 20 cleanup where the Water Department adopted Barren Fork River miles six and seven, we picked up 25 tires and nearly 1,000 pounds of trash ourselves,” said Pelham. 

When Breakfast Rotary launched its adopt-a-river program last year, the department signed up to clean those miles upriver and downriver from Pepper Branch Park (approximately Riverfront Park to Rocket Park) due to the city’s water supply coming from the dam at Pepper Branch Park. 

“There seems to be a lot of tires,” said Pelham. “In the previous decade this has been going on, there have been a lot of tires pulled out. The appearance of the age of some of the tires that I’m seeing don’t look like they are old, old tires that have been there for a while. It appears they are washing into the river or someone is dumping.”

Mayor Ben Newman added, “Some of the tires that we found were newer tires. I was shocked.”

Breakfast Rotary conducts the day-long cleanup effort each year and tires are always found among other debris that shouldn’t be in the water. This year, organizers reported finding approximately 100 tires and 6,000 pounds of trash in Hickory Creek, Barren Fork River and Collins River. Those items were placed at approximately 20 pickup sites established along the rivers. 

On Monday, the city’s Public Works Department cleaned all the pickup sites, an effort that took employees several hours to complete. The city of McMinnville paid for disposal, as well as the cost of employee hours. 

Pelham suggested the city undertake measures to prevent illegal dumping into the river. 

“This is our water source and a recreational source,” he said. “It is a valuable asset and entity to us and we need to protect it.”

Board member voiced approval for the suggestion.