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Renew Our Rivers 2018 schedule will build on last year’s milestone

The Southeast Asian country of Cambodia has 15 million people.

Every episode in the last season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will cost $15 million.

The number 15 million is a lot.

That’s the number of pounds of trash that has been removed from Alabama Power and other Southern Company lakes since the Renew Our Rivers (ROR) cleanup campaign started in 2000.

“Fifteen million is a staggering number in and of itself,” said Susan Comensky, vice president of Alabama Power’s Environmental Affairs department, which oversees ROR. “But when you apply it to the amount of trash and debris that otherwise would be in these lakes, it is beyond staggering. Renew Our Rivers has made an overwhelming difference.”

It was late last year the 15-million-pound milestone was reached. The first cleanup, started by now-retired Plant Gadsden regulatory compliance supervisor Gene Phifer, gathered unsightly trash and junk from a 2-mile stretch of the Coosa River near the plant.

What was then dubbed “Renew the Coosa” morphed into ROR. As the effort gained notoriety, it was embraced by Alabama Power plants companywide, then by Southern Company operating companies.

“Although the cleanup was started by a single power company employee, and has been championed and led by Alabama Power these past 19 years, Renew Our Rivers has only had the level of success that it has had because of all the volunteers,” said Mike Clelland, an Environmental Affairs specialist who coordinates ROR cleanups.

Some 110,000 people have volunteered systemwide; 83,000 from Alabama alone.

“HOBO (homeowner and boatowner) groups, lake associations, municipalities and school students – enthusiastic volunteers like these are 100 percent the reason Renew Our Rivers has been successful. They’re the reason this cleanup program will be successful in the future,” Clelland said.

Speaking of which, 30 cleanups are on tap in 2018 between February and November on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Black Warrior, Cahaba, Alabama, Mobile and Chattahoochee rivers. For more information, contact Clelland at [email protected].

Feb. 17: Alabama River
Contact: John-Paul O’Driscoll at 334-358-6749

March 3: Lake Eufaula (Chattahoochee River)
Contact: Brad Moore at 334-616-7888

March 17: Valley Creek
Contact: Freddie Freeman at 205-424-4060 ext. 4188 or

March 17-24: Logan Martin (Coosa River)
Contact: Mike Riley at 205-531-2372

March 24: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)
Contact: Dale Vann at 205-910-3713 or [email protected]

April 7: Lay Lake at E.C. Gaston Plant (Coosa River)
Contact: Tanisha Fenderson at 205-669-2020

April 7: Cahaba River
Contact: Myra Crawford at [email protected]

April 11-12: Smith Lake (Winston County)
Contact: Allison Cochran at 205-489-5111

April 14: Lake Jordan (Coosa River)
Contact: Brenda Basnight at 334-478-3388

April 15-21: Lay Lake (Coosa River)
Contact: Judy Jones at 205-669-4865

April 20: Smith Lake (Cullman County)
Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

April 24-25: Plant Barry (Mobile River)
Contact: Bo Cotton at 251-331-0603

April 27: Plant Miller (Locust Fork)
Contact: Jeff Baker at 205-408-2033 or [email protected]

April 28: Weiss Lake
Contact: Sam Marko at 404-626-8594

May 7-8: Smith Lake (Walker County)
Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

May 11: Gorgas Steam Plant (Mulberry Fork)
Contact: Che George at 205-686-2324 or [email protected]

May 19: Bankhead Lake (Black Warrior River)
Contact: Buck Vines at 205-226-1170

Aug. 4: Holt Lake (Black Warrior River)
Contact: Becky Clark at 205-799-2449

Aug. 4: Upper Tallapoosa River
Contact: Lex Brown at 256-748-3842

Aug. 25: Neely Henry Lake (Calhoun County)
Contact: Casandra Lewis Maudsley at 205-472-0481 or [email protected]

Sept. 10-11: Smith Lake (Walker County)
Contact: Roger Treglown at 205-300-5253

Sept.14: Smith Lake (Cullman County)
Contact: Jim Murphy at 205-529-5981

Sept. 13-15: Village Creek
Contact: Yohance Owens at 205-798-0087

Sept. 28-29: Lake Demopolis
Contact: Jesse Johnson at 334-289-6160 or 251-238-1257

Oct. 4: Smith Lake (Winston County)
Contact: Jim Eason at [email protected]

Oct. 9: Dog River (Mobile County)
Contact: Catie Boss at 251-829-2146 or [email protected]

Oct. 27: Lake Mitchell (Coosa River)
Contact: Dale Vann at 205-910-3713 or [email protected]

Oct. 23-25: R.L. Harris (Tallapoosa River-Lake Wedowee)
Contact: Sheila Smith at 205-396-5093 or Marlin Glover at

Oct. 29-Nov. 2: Neely Henry Lake (Coosa River)
Contact: Lisa Dover at 256-549-0900

Nov. 2-3: Lake Martin (Tallapoosa River)
Contact: John Thompson at 334-399-3289

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