A SMALL 'flash mob' of litter pickers converged on the Six Mile Water last week to clean up everything from supermarket trolleys to a tractor wheel.
Water levels in the Co Antrim river can fluctuate considerably, so when members of the Six Mile Water Trust noticed that conditions were perfect for an impromptu clean-up they rolled up their sleeves and got going as part of our Big Spring Clean campaign.
Last year one of their clean-ups uncovered an unexploded World War II bomb – so anything else was going to be an improvement.
The trust's Kathy McLean said eight volunteers gathered about 10 bags of rubbish, not to mention the bigger things like a wheelbarrow and tractor wheel.
"We cleaned from Shakey Bridge at Muckamore along the race trail to the water wheel. It's a beautiful part of the river and there's a beautiful public walk there which is easily accessible," she said.
And the regular clean-ups are finally starting to pay dividends, with litter levels dropping as people get the message.
"Members of the public do walk it very frequently because it's getting cleaner and people are tending to drop less litter," Kathy said.
"The litter is definitely diminishing, which is very heartening. We've been doing this probably for four or five years now."
The clean-up is aided by anglers in the trust who are able to don waders and get right into the most inaccessible parts of the watercourse, she said. The trust was set up after a massive pollution incident wiped out fish in the Ballymartin River and Six Mile Water between Mallusk and Lough Neagh. The group was set up to protect and enhance the river and the rich bird and animal life that depends on it.
Volunteers are drawn from anglers, residents' groups, RSPB, canoeists and environmentalists and are assisted by local politicians.
"On one clean-up in Antrim town in 2012 we found an unexploded World War II bomb – we rather hope that's a one-off!'' Kathy said.
If anyone is interested in giving an hour or two of their time or wish to have more information on the trust, email Kathy on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with Tidy Northern Ireland and DoE Rethink Waste in a bid to inspire tens of thousands of people to roll up their sleeves this spring and tackle the litter blight.
Last year the Big Spring Clean mobilised 26,000 volunteers who lifted 163 tonnes of litter – equivalent to 23 double-decker buses.
This year we have set ourselves an even tougher target to get 50,000 people involved.
Joining in the Big Spring Clean is easy. All you need to do is register an event or join an existing event online at www.bigspring cleanni.org. Don't forget to tell us how successful your event was. Your local council will supply additional kit and will collect the rubbish. For more information, check out the website, email info@bigspring cleanni.org or call 028 9073 6920.