Mattresses, refrigerators, teeth among litter pulled from South Holston Lake/River area

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Over the last 25 years, more than 655 tons of waste have been cleaned up from the South Holston Lake and River area. This is done through the "Keep Bristol Beautiful" initiative by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

"Over the 25 years we have done a lot of educating too. When you think that a plastic milk jug takes 450 years to disintegrate in the lake...people start thinking about that now," says volunteer, Mark Webb.

Volunteers of all ages are doing this part to keep the environment clean.

"I've been doing bags and gloves and passing them out and help the staff," says volunteer, James Baker.

Various types of little are pulled from the lake each year including some unexpected items.

"We have taken out mattresses, bedroom suits, refrigerators, bowling balls, teeth, you name it we can just about pull it out," Webb says.

The amount of trash picked up at just one campsite was immense...three trash bags worth. Driftwood and other waste can gather and clog a cove due to water flow patterns. The collected little is brought back to shore and disposed of properly.

"The city of Bristol, Tennessee, the waste management helps us...we have a recycling tire company that helps us...we get it taken care of properly," Webb says.

The best way to keep the water and the area around it clean is to dispose of personal waste properly.

"Deposit it in the trash and put it in the right place to begin with and not over the side of the boat," says boom truck operator, Butch Gentry.