Living Lands & Waters’ Cleanup Work Continued During Spring Flooding

This spring’s unprecedented flooding across most river systems shut down commercial navigation over large stretches of the waterways.

One thing it didn’t shut down was the cleanup work of Living Lands and Waters (LL&W). Chad Pregracke, founder of LL&W, said the floods presented challenges but also created opportunities.

“It actually worked out pretty well, because our boats were getting some donated work done at Wepfer Marine during the high water,” he said.

The high water did limit where volunteers could work for some periods. Much of the Upper Mississippi River was not safe for much of the flooding period. But Pregracke said the high water offered opportunities elsewhere. “When the Mississippi was high, the Illinois River was backed up into lake areas where we had never had access before,” he said.

While LL&W had no trouble attracting cleanup volunteers, Pregracke said they went about their business without a lot of media publicity, and without contacting river towns or municipalities.

“When those river communities were overwhelmed and fighting for their homes, we didn’t want to bother them with other things,” he said.

So did Pregracke’s crews see any unusual debris due to the flooding? “We did see an unusual number of 55-gallon drums,” he said.

Pregracke said his group got extra financial help behind the scenes from a family associated with the barge business that wants to remain anonymous.

Volunteer crews from LL&W managed to do cleanup work in 16 river communities affected by the flooding. So far this year, they have collected 312,836 pounds of trash.