Project Clean Stream’s impact ripples through a waterway’s community

Removing trash is an easy way to take action while forming a connection between volunteers and their local waterway. 

Project Clean Stream, initiated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, returns this month for its 12th year of helping residents across the watershed become stewards of their local streams and rivers.

What began as a small, local stream cleanup in Baltimore, Project Clean Stream has grown into the largest cleanup effort in the Chesapeake Bay.

While trash is not the greatest threat to the Chesapeake Bay, it is definitely an indicator of stream health and the degree of awareness of a community in caring for local waterways.

Removing trash also represents an easy way to take action. While the initial impact is a cleaner, safer, more beautiful Bay watershed, Project Clean Stream aims much deeper. By engaging volunteers in a meaningful outdoor experience that connects them to their local watershed and community, the cleanup encourages participants to become stronger environmental stewards.

The work of Project Clean Stream is successful because of its network of hundreds of watershed organizations, community groups, schools, churches, local governments and businesses who commit to hosting cleanup sites and ensuring that volunteers have a meaningful experience.

The Alliance provides support to these groups by providing trash bags, gloves and other supplies and services such as trash pickup.

Volunteers work hard but they also learn about their neighborhood stream from their local hosts. Our network of local groups work to keep volunteers involved beyond the day’s cleanup project.

This year, Project Clean Stream has created new and exciting partnerships throughout the watershed, with affiliates of Keep America Beautiful in particular. These partnerships will expand our reach to many more local residents and communities

Keep America Beautiful is a national nonprofit that encourages and supports volunteers who take action in their communities to transform public spaces into beautiful places. Through Project Clean Stream, the Alliance will support many Keep America Beautiful affiliates, including Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, Keep Virginia Beautiful, Keep Henrico County Beautiful and Annapolis Green, to name just a few.

One of our new signature partnerships with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will dramatically increase the impact that state’s residents have on the Chesapeake as well as help the Alliance educate a greater number of people about the important relationship they have with a cleaner Susquehanna River and cleaner Bay.

Each year, Project Clean Stream picks one or more target items to count and report on. This year, we are tracking the removal of two items thanks to our partnerships. Volunteers will provide an estimate of how many plastic and glass bottles they remove from streams and parks to collect data to support efforts to increase recycling through bottle bills.

In addition, we are also asking volunteers to provide an estimate of the number of cigarette butts they find. This is an especially acute problem where runoff at road intersections dumps into local streams.

In a partnership with Annapolis Green, we are attempting to reduce the negative impact smokers have on clean water by educating them on proper cigarette disposal practices. Annapolis Green will supply portable ash trays to our site captains for volunteers to use as well as a link to educational materials available on our website.

In 2014, nearly 7,500 volunteers at 260 sites removed almost 425,000 pounds of trash and debris from area streams. This year, thanks to our new partnerships, we hope to recruit 10,000 volunteers and register 500 cleanup sites with the goal of collecting one million pounds of trash: plastic bottles, tires and other discarded items.

To volunteer at a cleanup site or create a cleanup site near you, visit or contact Joanna Freeman at 443-949-0575 or

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