WELLSBORO — The headwaters of Pine Creek and the Chesapeake Bay are a little cleaner, but a Wellsboro man wants to remind other residents to be careful of their collected trash.
After a heavy rain and high water in mid-September, Wellsboro resident Dave Driskell began picking aluminum cans out of Hoover Brook which runs behind his house on Fischler Street. He threw them into his recycle pile and noticed that all the cans were soda — either Pepsi or Sam’s Club cola — and crushed flat.
“Someone’s bag of them ended up in the creek,” he said.
Last week, Driskell decided to find out how many cans remained upstream and, if possible, identify where they originated.
“How many are buried that I can’t see?” he asked.
He collected cans in a plastic grocery bag, filling bag Thursday and another Friday morning for a total of 52 cans.
“Nobody would intentionally do that [throw aluminum cans in the stream],” he said. “Somebody was either careless or couldn’t care less.”
On Friday afternoon, he trekked even further upstream, collecting an additional 115 cans.
“I’m not concerned by who did it. I’m more concerned that the word gets out that people need to be more careful,” Driskell said.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website, there are an estimated 502 million pieces of litter on Pennsylvania’s roads. Most of that are common items like cigarette butts (37%) or plastic (30%), along with food packages, bottles and bags.
What’s more difficult to determine is how much litter there is in Pennsylvania’s waterways and who will remove it.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers the Adopt-a-Highway program where volunteer groups make a two-year commitment to pick up trash on a two-mile section of highway for two years. PennDOT provides safety vests, trash bags, work gloves, signs and other equipment; notifies state police of scheduled clean-ups; picks up bagged litter and posts a sign recognizing the organization.
For waterways, other than volunteer groups like Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group, which holds an annual clean-up of Pine Creek, and property owners like Driskell, no formal program exists.
Driskell is concerned about the aluminum cans and trash that float through his property that he doesn’t collect.
“The aluminum kind of floats because it’s light and there are air pockets in the can. It could be down much further,” he said, noting that Hoover Brook feeds into Pine Creek and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.
“This is the headwaters; it runs all the way to Harrisburg. To think that it starts right here …,” said Driskell, trailing off.