Organization Removes Hidden Secrets from Drinking Water

August 14, 2015


by S. Aaron Shamshoyan

Clean waterways are a passion of Rocky Morrison, founder of Methuen-based Clean River Project, and after more than ten years of removing debris from the Merrimack River, the team hit a local lake.

On July 20, a team of five launched two boats into Canobie Lake, the town’s primary drinking water supply, with one goal, to make the lake cleaner.

By noon, the team had completely filled one boat twice with debris, including sunken construction materials from docks, rubber tires, plastic chairs, traffic cones, and bags of trash, all materials visible from the surface and often only a few yards off shore.

“We did pull a lot of trash out and we’re going to continue to pull a lot of trash out,” Morrison told supporters at a noon-time press conference.

And the group’s efforts are not going unnoticed.  Clean River Project board member Judith Del-Valle-Webb, read a letter from U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) stating the importance of the work they do.

“Clear drinking water for New Hampshire municipalities is of the utmost importance, and there is still more work to be done to prevent contamination and preserve water quality,” Ayotte wrote.  “I have fought hard for full and consistent funding of the water conservation funds.”

But finding funding for the non-profit to clean a waterway is not easy Morrison said, noting it costs nearly $2,000 to get a project started.

While the organization is all-volunteer based, fuel to transport and operate the boats along with other expenses, including disposal of removed debris, are costly.

Morrison said he would like to continue work in New Hampshire, specifically Salem, where he calls home, but funding will dictate where the operation goes.

“I’m looking for people out there to find the biggest messes, find the biggest dump sites.  That’s a challenge for me,” Morrison said.  “Clean River Project will go anywhere.  Any stream any lake, anywhere if the funds are there to help us out.”

Morrison said the debris they removed was only from a small section of the lake and more exploratory and deep-water work would be necessary to better clean the reservoir.

Also unveiled that day was a new-handicapped ramp for the Clean River Project’s tour boat, donated by the Salem Lions Club, allowing handicapped guests to tour the cleaned waterways.