Delayed pick-up of litter designed to send message

JACKSON — The agency that governs 17,000 acres of land around the Ross Barnett Reservoir is letting trash pile up on sandbars upriver during the Memorial Day weekend and for a week afterward, to show just how bad the litter problem is.

The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District will do the same thing during and after the Fourth of July holiday, executive director John Sigman said.

“”We realize that this one week is not going to change behaviors. But it serves the purpose of drawing attention to the problem, so we can then start educating and letting people know it’s not the thing to do. It’s not acceptable,” he said.

Sigman said the district that supervises Jackson’s main source of water does not get any taxes — its money come from people who lease the land it owns — and its budget gets hit when it has to clean the river.

“We’re spending money to clean upriver, and that’s money that instead could go toward installing new boat ramps,” Sigman said.

Litter problems have long plagued the Reservoir and surrounding lands.

“The litter problem along the sandbars has been a serious issue and a top priority of the members of Keep the Rez Beautiful,” a nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up the reservoir, said its chairwoman, Brenda Miller.

Sigman said people who use the area bring in all the trash. “Why can’t they just take it with them?”

Some people have asked for more campground trash bins. Sigman said that leaves questions such as who will empty them, and who will pay for that work.

Sigman said his office would monitor the Pearl River for any rise that might sweep the trash from the sandbars into the water.

“If we see a rising river, we’ll get out there and pick up the trash,” Sigman said.

The Associated Press