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River Clean Up Makes Some Progress

August 14th, 2013

Local photographer Clarke Conde has been snapping photos of the Genesee River all year. This patch of trash had been growing slowly like a giant, smelly tumor. [PHOTO: Clarke Conde]
A couple of weeks ago photographer Clarke Conde external link shared some dirty photos of Rochester’s riverfront on Facebook. Those photos made me sad. Dead trees, algae and trash had been collecting in this section of the river for over well over year. Smelly algae and logs are one thing. But add piles of plastic bottles, clothing, styrofoam, truck tires, other undesirables, and let stew for a year or more? To me, that’s more than a cosmetic problem. If I’m from out of town, I’d probably think Rochesterians just don’t give a hoot.

Thankfully, we all know that isn’t true. We pulled together. And we made a difference…

The Genesee River, now looking less like a landfill. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
After making some phone calls I learned this section of river is not managed by the City of Rochester, but by New York State Canal Corporation external link. Problem is, the Canal Corp. doesn’t consider this to be a navigation channel. And with over 500 miles of higher-priority waterways across the state, they weren’t in a position to commit to sending a cleaning crew out here.

After this photo was shared online, however, more people began to speak up and NYS Canal Corp finally sent out some equipment to break up the log jam and pull out the trash. The photo above was taken yesterday. And as you can see, the river is looking less like a landfill, and more like something we can be proud of.

We need to thank Clarke Conde for showing us the world through his camera lens. But we also need to thank Nancy O’Donnell and The Wedge newspaper for also calling attention to this. Thomas Hack from the City’s Department of Environmental Services for working behind the scenes. And William Sweitzer and John Callaghan from NYS Canal Corp. for answering our questions open and honestly, and for finding a way to get this cleaned up.

An overflowing garbage can next to the Genesee River. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
But before we crack open the champagne bottle, the photo above was also taken yesterday. Trash cans literally overflowing into the river? Is this helping?

The saga continues…

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 at 8:01 am and is filed under Opinion, Rochester Images, Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Responses to “River Clean Up Makes Some Progress”

  1. Lesley says:

    People that make things happen! Impressive!

  2. Brian says:

    There is a very stark difference in the perspective of the before and after photos… You can barely even see the scene of the before photo in the after photo, so it’s actually difficult to discern the current condition of the river at the relevant location in the after photo. The lower photo appears to be more indicative.

  3. chase tyler says:

    I live close to Charlotte. No problems there, althouh the murky water of the river contrasts with the lake.

  4. I always thought it strange how much murkier the river is than the lake. From a Google satellite image, it looks like someone dumped a million gallons of Yoo-Hoo into the lake. I guess it’s mud or silt, but it looks awful.

  5. pat m says:

    How about getting a group of people together once a month with nets,and pull some of the trash out ourselves! Like they do with the adopt a highway program.

  6. @Pat, I think that is exactly what is going to have to happen. If you’re interested in organizing a group like this, send me an email I’ll try to connect you with the right people.


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