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Riversweep History

The Event

2019 is the seventeenth year of Riversweep, the annual volunteer clean-up event on Lake Wylie, drawing volunteers from the three-county region surrounding Lake Wylie and beyond. Riversweep 2019 is on Saturday, October 5th, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Local volunteers of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, in partnership with the Lake Wylie Marine Commission, organize Riversweep and recruit Boat Captains and volunteers to man boats and retrieve trash and debris along the shoreline.

The event is supported by area businesses, marinas, recreational organizations, local municipal and county governments, charitable foundations, and generous individuals. Donations are made in several forms: financial, material in-kind contributions, publicity through customer communication channels and websites, and volunteer recruitment efforts.

The Lake Wylie Marine Commission promotes Riversweep at the Charlotte Boat Show in February and on its website - The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation announces Riversweep on its website -

In late summer, event flyers are distributed throughout the communities around the lake. News articles and press releases are circulated to announce the event and explain how individuals can volunteer on the Riversweep web site.

We also make appeals for boat owners to volunteer their boats to help transport workers around the shoreline and haul collected trash back to the sites. Pontoon boats are particularly useful.

There are 12 volunteer site locations around Lake Wylie:

1.Tailrace Marina-Mt. Holly

7.Buster Boyd Bridge Access

2.Riverside Marine-Belmont

8.River Hills/Pier 88 Marina

3.Paw Creek

9.Tega Cay Marina

4.Gaston County Wildlife Club Landing

10.Allison Creek Access

5.Harbortowne Marina

11.Ebenezer Park-Rock Hill

6.Seven Oaks Bridge

12.Nivens Creek Access-Fort Mill


Volunteers choose the most convenient site to work when they pre-register online.  Walk-up volunteers register at the site they select the morning of the event.

Site Captains at each location register volunteers, provide them with a Riversweep T-shirt, trash bags and grabbers, work gloves, and direct them to an area of the shoreline to clear. Some go by vehicles to the designated areas, and some by kayaks to the shallow reaches of the coves. Other volunteers staff the sites with dumpsters and help unload trash from boats and vehicles.

Trash is counted and tallied at each site. Then the site totals are combined to report Riversweep’s grand total of trash, junk, and debris pulled from the lake, creeks, and coves. 

We estimate the trash in terms of full dumpsters as well as the number of vehicle tires, watercraft, household furnishings and other unusual items collected. These results, along with the number of registered volunteers and boat captains, are distributed in press releases and on all participating web sites.

The Benefits

The benefits of Riversweep to communities, municipalities, counties, and the region are significant. A lake with a healthy ecosystem and free of trash, debris, and hazards to navigation contributes to the foundation of a strong local economy. 

The appeal of Riversweep is demonstrated repeatedly as many return volunteers commit themselves to care for the lake. The effectiveness of the event’s publicity is compounded each year by increased public awareness from previous campaigns. A healthy public waterway, maintained by the volunteerism of local residents speaks to the environmental culture of lakeside communities that are predominately in unincorporated areas.

Seventeen years later, Riversweep has transcended a simple community clean-up project. Every fall, the event draws residents and visitors alike to focus on issues that impact water quality and on the critical need to protect this beautiful natural resource.  Volunteer participation fosters pride of place and a personal commitment of the communities’ residents who enjoy Lake Wylie.