Demonstrators in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, still protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, need to get out before the river floods.
The governor issued an emergency evacuation order Wednesday night, saying if the leftover human waste and garbage isn't cleaned up before water washes over the land, it could lead to an "ecological disaster" in the Missouri River.
All of it will flow into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe, then make its way to the main Missouri River, polluting the water.
The warm temperatures have made this an urgent issue, and near-record highs are expected in the coming days, officials said. The water is expected to rise near the camps by the end of this week, and ice jams are possible – all of which means likely flooding.
Anyone on the land there, which is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, needs to leave, as the water puts their lives at risk too.
The governor's office says the Oceti Sakowin camp needs to be clear by Feb. 22 – that's the latest they can push it for private contractors to still be able to do accelerated waste cleanup ahead of flooding.
"They will have to double their efforts to remove the waste in a timely manner," said Dave Glatt, with the North Dakota Department of Health. "Any protestors at the camp who refuse to move or intend to engage in criminal activity are only exacerbating a very delicate, dangerous situation for those who depend on the land and water."
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked people to leave last month, giving a heartfelt thanks to the protesters, but saying it was "imperative" the land be cleaned up before flooding occurs.
The Associated Press reported officials think there's enough debris to fill 2,500 pickup trucks.
The Oceti Sakowin Facebook page said Thursday morning, "Many sections of camp have been cleared, we are cooperatively working together to clean camp up in a good and timely way."
In a previous post, they noted it's "more complicated" than claims demonstrators have just left trash all over.
"Much of what is left are these donations no one claimed or things left by those who were no longer able to be at camp for various reasons (including being arrested)," they wrote.
Work on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which needs to be routed under Lake Oahe, started up again recently after getting the permission it needed from the federal government.