Volunteers with some of the debris collected from the lake during a previous underwater cleanup.

Volunteers with some of the debris collected from the lake during a previous underwater cleanup.

Volunteers needed for annual Underwater Cleanup next month

Volunteers are being sought to help with the Sylvan Lake Underwater Cleanup scheduled for Sept. 27.

Volunteers are being sought to help with the Sylvan Lake Underwater Cleanup scheduled for Sept. 27.

The annual event typically receives at least 45 volunteers, who spend around two hours doing one of three jobs — scuba diving (if certified), paddling and shoreline support.

The cleanup takes place in the morning, as boaters typically become more active in the afternoon, making the safety of volunteer divers a high priority.

Volunteering to clean up is not only serving and giving back to the community, said Alberta Underwater Council executive director Cathie McCuaig; it also provides insight into the devastating effects of what can happen when trash begins to collect on the bottom of the lake.

The impact of human activity will be seen in the garbage collected throughout the cleanup’s duration, she added. As will where it all goes and how it’s disposed of.

“It’s environmental awareness of what we’re doing to our lakes and rivers and oceans by just a careless act of dropping a cigarette butt,” she said. “Fish could eat it and just die, because it plugs up their digestive system.”

Food containers, fishing nets, alcohol and pop bottles and broken glass are among the items collected during the cleanup in previous years.

Once the garbage is collected on shore, the pieces are counted, and the data recorded. The information is then made available worldwide.

Volunteers interested in helping at this year’s cleanup are asked to contact McCuaig at info@albertaunderwatercouncil.com.