Volunteers, of course, do not cover the entire river, but they still rid the banks of tons of trash.
Always, though, it seems there is that much and more littering along the shores when the next sweep rolls around.
If the river is to be cleaned up and kept clean, it will take the effort of every individual who uses it.
For boaters, it's easy to carry a large plastic garbage bag to put their trash in and lift it out of the boat back at the ramp or dock and dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
But it is bank fishermen who usually litter the banks. They come to the river to camp, fish, build a fire and roast wieners, then many of them go off and leave everything lying on the bank You can see these litter spots as you travel the river in a boat.
Why doesn't everyone who uses the river carry a garbage bag in their belt or back pocket? Pack out everything you brought in. And it's a good idea to pick up a few items someone ahead of you may have left and carry them away with you, too.
The other area where responsibility lies is on the tributaries and feeder streams. In another era, people used these streams as depositories for garbage and trash, as though the next flood would take it out of sight and out of mind. The present generation, having garbage pickup service and landfills, is doing better, but some still dump garbage over the river bank.
Many times, on a quick rise after heavy rains, you can see this trash floating out of the mouths of the tributaries and into the big river, which carries it downstream and eventually deposits it on its own shores when the water recedes.
And so the solution to clean river banks seems simple enough. Stop the littering. Don't leave even a chewing gum wrapper.
Then, in a few years - let's say by the time River Sweep 2011 is finished - there may not be a need for River Sweep 2012.
Only then - when the pollution is stopped completely - will we be able to show outsiders our river and be proud of it.
Let's just do it.