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1 mile of Mississippi River + 2.5 hours of time = 5 tons of trash

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It was time for an annual Mississippi River cleanup on Wednesday and this year's haul by a crew of volunteers was especially impressive.

Through its Adopt-A-River program, the DNR organizes the event. One of the Padelford River Boats docked in St. Paul takes the crew to a stretch of river that's in need of a cleaning and the volunteers have at it for a few hours.

This year WCCO tagged along and reports the DNR's coordinator estimated the amount of trash collected was 10,000 pounds, which doubles what they expected.

The DNR's Paul Nordell tells the station a contributing factor in the big haul was the cleanup crew's ability to reach trash that had been covered by floodwaters in recent years.

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Of course, this is not the only event of its kind on the river. A group in La Crosse held its 24th annual cleanup day last month and drew more than 200 volunteers.

Living Lands & Waters started its Great Mississippi River Cleanup on the upper stretches of the river, but has expanded and now works with downstream communities on organizing local events.

In addition to the tires and other items that are purposely – and illegally – dumped into the river, there are plenty of things that were discarded far from the Mississippi. Much of that litter gets washed into gutters and floats through the stormwater system to the river.

MinnPost reported last month that the sewer systems connecting street to river have been improved over the years, but remain conduits for plenty of trash and pollution.

St. Paul has a pilot program that may help. People who Adopt-a-Storm-Drain agree to sweep leaves and other debris from their drain year-round.

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