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River cleaners express concern over bottles placed on beams under Milwaukee bridges

Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 06:29:10-04

MILWAUKEE — Scott Cassavant is the Captain of the Lynyrd Skymmr, a vessel with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District that cleans up debris and pollution in the river. On any given day, Captain Cassavant said they can fill 20 yards or a full dumpster with trash but recently, it’s the bottles being placed on the beams of bridges that has Scott concerned.

“Some of these bottles are large bottles, they are not just the small bottles,” said Captain Cassavant.

Cassavant said for years they have dealt with bottle issues but this year it's become more noticeable. He believes the increase in bottles being placed on beams is due to boaters and high water levels.

“We are experiencing incredibly high water conditions of epic levels we have never seen. The waters levels are high which results in a typical person being able to stand up and reach the bottom of the bridge,” said Cassavant.

Cassavant said the bottle range from beer bottles, to wine glasses and large liquor bottles. His concern is when the bridges go up, the bottles could harm someone.

“The bottles have weight, they do break and can cause personal injury,” said Cassavant.

Beth Handle owner of Milwaukee Kayak Company said she has noticed the same thing.

“With the increase boat traffic, it’s definitely become more prevalent,” said Handle.

They run daily rentals and weekly guided tours, she said her guides and customers are even getting in on the cleanup action.

“It’s hard to pass by a bottle and not pick it up and our kayakers do as well,” said Handle.

Handle said, not only are the bottles unpleasing for those trying to enjoy the river but it’s also dangerous for kayakers, boaters, and the environment.

“It takes a lot of work to clean up these rivers and we want to make sure they are presentable, nice, and clean and we want to protect our fish and aquatic life that thrive in our rivers,” said Handle.

“The rivers we have are something that should be enjoyed by everybody but think about what you are doing," said Cassavant.

Both hope the boaters will think about their actions before placing bottles out on the beams of bridges.

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