Xstream Cleanup gets a boost from drought

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The drought could help the annual Xstream Cleanup in the Quad Cities on August 11. That's because low river levels could reveal more garbage and debris.

Volunteer sign-ups continue until August 2 at http://www.xstreamcleanup.org. Participants get a free t-shirt and a ticket to River Roots Live.

It is a sorry sight along the Mississippi River. Trash and junk mar this national treasure. Pollution that's tough on the eye and rough on the environment.

"I just think it's kind of senseless," said Katy Wehr, Bettendorf, as she stepped off the Channel Cat Water Taxi. "We've always had great facilities in the Quad Cities."

Reason enough for Xstream Cleanup to return. Hosted by Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke, some 1,500 volunteers will clean up nearly four dozen sites in the Quad Cities area. It's a remarkable project that shows one day can make a difference.

"We find bowling balls, refrigerators, tv's, mannequin heads, a little bit of everything," said Amber Pribyl, Living Lands & Waters.

Pregracke's project tries to remove all kinds of junk. Since drought is leaving the Mississippi River at lower than normal levels, it will be a twist for volunteers that pitch in to help.

Those low river levels could reveal even more trash and debris along the shore. It will give volunteers plenty to pick up during Xstream Cleanup.

"It's definitely going to expose more trash," Pribyl said. "The streams are going to be exposed a lot more, so there definitely will be more trash collected this year."

Trash that's already starting to pile up along the river. Volunteers collected nearly 70,000 pounds of debris in 2011.

For Channel Cat passengers like Calley Barnes, Rock Island, it's an awesome task that gets more impressive.

"I think it's fantastic," she said. "Especially for the boaters because they run into all the garbage and stuff. We can just keep it nice and enjoy this good recreation for the Quad Cities."

On August 11, it hopes to be an Xstream Cleanup for the entire community.