So yesterday Yatipope and I did a trial sweep on the Enoree River. Our planned sweep and camp out is for the end of April, but we wanted to do an assessment before we had people who may be good paddlers, but inexperienced with river paddling, current and hazards to the trip.
However what I am going to discuss is our observations and conclusions about the trash in the river. The river is rather small so large trees can fall and span the river in many places. This year there are no portages that need to be made. It is the most open I have seen it since 2013. There are still many sweepers with log jams. I do not think from the volume of trash we observed in these obstructions that the river ever came close to flooding over the banks this winter which would have spread the concentrated trash over the floodplain, or swept it down stream. Therefore lots of stuff in the log jams. It runs through National Forest and private forest lands for much of it’s length with only one house near Keitts Bridge on a small hill. It has numerous small creeks that enter it and 2 towns at the headwaters of tributaries, One small town on the river above where we collected and the greater metropolitan area of Greenville at the headwaters of the river. Very little use of the river where we collected.
Most of the trash was plastic drink and water bottles, and most looked well weathered. Lots of balls from plastic golf balls to basket balls…LOTS! Coolers, 5 gallon buckets, pill bottles, motor oil bottles, disposable lighters, liquor bottles, a few glass bottles, tic tac containers, even a tube of lipstick (not my color), and lots of broken pieces of Styrofoam cups of small size. In fact due to the difficulty of seeing the mud stained Styrofoam which looks like pieces of wood mixed in with the natural debris this may be the major plastic rubbish in the river. Nearly impossible to collect. There were 3 tires one still on the metal rim. A 55 gallon drum, and 20 lb propane tank. This isn’t a complete list. We pretty much had a full load of the easy to reach stuff before going a mile which left the majority still in the log jams.
Due to the nature of the trash it seems much of the stuff washes into the river by way of backyard ditches, and roadside ditches and creeks from the towns and city. There is lots of litter along the roads we drove in the forest area too. It doesn’t look like river use is responsible for the preponderance of trash in the river. We found only 2 fishing bobbers over the 10 miles to the Broad River we paddled on the Enoree.
Why so much visible trash in the Enoree River? It is small with many sweepers. When you get to the Broad River this isn’t the case. In fact most rivers I paddle don’t commonly have near this many log jams so they don’t capture and hold the rubbish. It just floats on down stream. When the Enoree floods it’s banks you still see some trash, but not nearly so much as it gets deposited on the floodplain, and swept down river. From what we observed, and the way the Enoree traps stuff it strongly suggests that just as much trash is flowing down rivers all the time. Since not being captured by these rivers they appear relatively clean. We don’t realize the shocking volume as a result.