May 16, 2013

Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, 206-297-7002 

The 11th Annual Sweep is the Largest yet! 400+ Volunteers to cleanup Lake Union, Salmon Bay, Ship Canal, Portage Bay and Union Bay on May 18th.

At 9:00am on Saturday, May 18th more than 400 volunteers will set afloat in kayaks, canoes, rowboats and power vessels with trash grabbers and skimmer nets to clean up debris in a colorful Seattle-style environmental event.  Styrofoam, plastic, cigarette butts, fast food packaging and construction materials are some of the worst offenders in our urban lakes. The trash absorbs pollutants and builds up over time clogging up the edges of Lake Union, Portage Bay, Salmon Bay, The Ship Canal and Union Bay, amassing beneath docks and along the shoreline.  Although tires and TVs are spectacular finds, small bits of plastic can be especially harmful to fish and wildlife which can mistake them for food.  Our urban lakes provide habitat to a surprising array of wildlife including salmon, herons, eagles, muskrat, beaver, and turtles that can be harmed by the trash and debris that ends up in our waterways.

Now stretching from the Ballard Locks to the Shores of Lake Washington, the event was expanded for the first time to include the waters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Salmon Bay near Ballad, Fremont and Magnolia to address the significant trash and debris found in this area.

At 8:30am, volunteers will gather at the docks at Lake Union Park, 860 Terry Ave N.  Sponsors include Brown Bear Car Wash (presenting sponsor), The Boeing Company, Floating Homes Association, Vulcan Real Estate, NBBJ and Werner Paddles.  Event partners include Seattle Parks & Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities and CleanScapes.  In addition, The Center for Wooden Boats, Agua Verde Paddle Club, Moss Bay Rowing Club, the Northwest Outdoor Center, Uncruise Adventures and the UW Waterfront Activities Center are invaluable partners in providing kayaks, canoes, rowboats and dock space.   To support this 11th annual event, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is organizing over thirty organizations, businesses, and government agencies. City agencies provide support in the form of facilities, equipment and cleanup tools.

Puget Soundkeeper Chris Wilke, points to the problem that most of the trash comes from surrounding streets and stormdrains, “We continue to find lots of trash in the lake and that concerns us because it means we as citizens can do more to protect our waters. We often see an increase after a heavy rain like we have had this week.”  Other sources of debris include illegal dumping and wind-blown trash from surrounding land.  “We are seeing an increase in volunteerism and in helping the environment” Wilke adds, pointing to the large turnout expected for the event.

At 9am the volunteers on land and in the water will be greeted by Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and then launch their boats to “sweep” up the trash from the water and shoreline. In addition crews led by Eastlake Community Council will clean up and work to restore shoreline habitat and Vulcan Real Estate has added a South Lake Union neighborhood cleanup.  In past years volunteers collected several tons of trash and debris– which included large items like tires, derelict docks and boats, and deadheads.

The event will end with a volunteer recognition lunch, celebration and raffle drawing with prizes generously provided by Brown Bear Car Wash, Aveda and Teva.  Refreshments will be provided for volunteers by Ivar’s Salmon House, Schwartz Brothers,  Cloud City Coffee and Serafina Restaurant at Lake Union Park from 12 -1pm.

Media Advisory:

Great photo opportunities are at the Event Kick Off at 9:00am, on the water via a trip on the Soundkeeper boat, or at 11:30am when vessels begin to return with bags of trash.  Media should check in at event headquarters at Lake Union Park for the best opportunities.