ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Volunteers used the drought to clean the Flint River on Thursday.
Because of the extremely dry conditions, the Flint is really low and slow right now, so Flint Riverkeeper organized dozens of volunteers to use the safer conditions for a clean up.
Flint Riverkeeper said that people have been reporting tires in the River just south of Albany for years.
On Thursday, they found out that the problem was much worse than they thought.
Boat after boat, loaded down with old tires, came to the Marine Ditch boat landing Thursday.
The tires were all found in one small section of the river.
"It's a hazardous material problem. It's a sight problem, it's a safety problem, and it's a litter problem," explained Flint Riverkeeper Board of Directors President David Dixon.
The volunteers soon found the dumpster brought to the river might have been too small.
Some of the tires might have been thrown in the river decades ago.
"They don't want to pay the tire fees for disposing of tires, so they just throw it off the bridge and let it float. It catches at the first shallow spot. We've gotten probably over 80 tires off of one spot 30 yards in diameter," said Lee County Sheriff's Office Captain Tommy Goodwin.
With the river low, now is the time people can get the tires, which experts said release toxins in the water.
"Eventually when that rubber does break down, it releases toxins in the water. It disturbs the banks. They embed in the banks," explained Dixon.
This issue points out why the Flint Riverkeeper is advocating that all the money from the state's scrap tire trust fund be restored to cleaning up these problems.
"We're going to be advocating this year in the legislature to get that money back where it belongs," said Dixon. "So we can get more cleanups and make people more aware of options to get rid of their tires."
Volunteers worked very hard on Thursday to clean up a Georgia natural resource.
It was very sad and disturbing to see the things that had been dumped in the river, from the kitchen sink to toilets, televisions and tires.
The Flint Riverkeeper hopes to organize more of these river cleanups after the winter, and they will be looking for more volunteers.
River levels are concerning the group, however.
The drought has cut flow to about one third of normal for this time of the year.
"The median flow for this particular stretch of the lower Flint is about 2400 cubic feet per second. And today we have seen about 850 cubic feet per second," said Jayme Smith, Flint Riverkeeper Director of Development.