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September 08, 2012 10:00 PM

Volunteers Clean Up Big Sioux River

Sioux Falls' namesake has been treated more like a dump rather than a water resource.

“It's gross and it's not how you want to see a river,” AmeriCorps volunteer Amanda Gains said.

The Big Sioux River is flowing significantly lower because of the drought. And the low water levels are uncovering mountains of trash.

“It's pretty disgusting,” John Geyer said.

Geyer knows the water well. He's part of the Sioux Falls Canoe and Kayak Club and is volunteering to clean up the river he loves.

"It's heartbreaking seeing the amount of trash and debris left over by people using the water, just walking by the trails, the flood, the amount of construction supplies left along the river," Geyer said.

Around two dozen people clean up the Big Sioux River near Rotary-Norlin Park Saturday. The effort is spearheaded by AmeriCorps volunteers from across the country.

"River cleanups are pretty close to my heart. I want to make the river look really nice," Gains said.

Volunteers say they can’t believe what they're finding in the river.

"It ends up with the most amazing debris in it. We pulled out one shoe next to a Gatorade bottle, next to what looks like a piece of an oven someone tossed in there," Gaines said.

"We've pulled out kiddy pools, tires, TVs, bicycles, things like that," Geyer said.

And while these volunteers pull out the unimaginable by land and by water, they hope the Big Sioux stays clean for years to come.

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