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Creek Week activities underway in Durham

Kim Oberle (R) talks to Jan French at the Little River Durham's reservoir during creek week.
Kim Oberle (R) talks to Jan French at the Little River Durham's reservoir during creek week.

“What’s your first thought when you see a commode floating in the lake that you’re going to be drinking out of,” Durham resident Mark Currin asked as he helped pick up litter Wednesday at Little River Lake.

The lake is Currin’s fishing hole, which is why he has participated in Creek Week efforts. And he knows exactly where the commode is.

Creek Week partners with more than 20 organizations interested in clean water, said Laura Webb Smith, public education coordinator for the Stormwater and GIS Services Division of Durham’s Public Works Department.

“Educators, artists, neighborhood organizers, water professionals, and outdoor enthusiasts lead experiences that help us explore our connections to local waterways,” Smith said.

Wednesday’s cleanup was organized Durham’s Parks and Recreation employees armed with gloves, trash bags and trash grabbers provided by Keep Durham Beautiful.

The city’s water management focuses on water quality, and parks and recreation focuses on residents who are around water, too, said Stacy Stone, recreation assistant supervisor with Durham’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Here in Durham our city lakes are our drinking water, so we like to keep them as clean as possible,” Stone said. “And any way we can engage the community in protecting our natural resources, we’re happy to do.”

Wasting no time to wait for boats, Durham resident Carolyn Huettel grabbed a trash bag and started picking up trash along the creek’s banks, before other volunteers arrived Wednesday.

It was Huettel’s first time to participate in Creek Week.

“I love being outside. I love nature, and I’ve always picked up trash all my life,” said Huettel, who has no qualms with reporting drivers she spots littering cigarette butts.

Currin shared a similar mindset for involvement.

“I see the trash that has either washed downstream and it needs to be cleaned up,” he said. “This is city water a lot of people end up drinking , and there’s great fishing out here, and we don’t want it ruined.

Chapel Hill resident Jan French — who is a former Durham resident — was interested in the artistic and recycling aspect of Creek Week.

“I bet we spend most of our time collecting shopping bags and food wrappers, but we’ll see,” French said. “ I’m looking for biodegradable materials that I can use in a community art project.”

French is a weaver and interested in participating in a project with the Triangle Land Conservancy in the Brumley Forest Nature Preserve.

Residents who missed Wednesday’s cleanup have another chance Thursday, March 23.

The city and county employee cleanup that will focus on Ellerbe Creek is open for residents to participate from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, said Laine Roberts, a water efficiency conservation analyst in the city’s water department.

The group will meet at the fire administration building at 2008 E. Club Blvd., Roberts said.

Rachael Riley: 919-419-6646, @RachaelRiley85