Ocean Crusaders have been engaged to help clear rubbish from the Burnett River and creeks in Bundaberg.
Ocean Crusaders is a charity organisation that specialises in waterway cleaning on a large scale.
They were awarded a Council tender to spearhead a community effort to keep local waterways clean.
The skilled and highly specialised team has already removed four tonnes of rubbish from the river.
Ocean Crusaders undertook a preliminary sweep this week to determine how often regular cleaning is needed.
“Debris isn’t always in plain sight and hence getting in among bushes, mangroves and reed grasses is essential to do a thorough clean-up of waterways,” Ocean Crusaders say on their website.
“Different scenarios require different cleaning systems and we are constantly developing better ways to complete our task.”
Founder Ian Thomson said Ocean Crusaders are passionate about the environment and have removed more than 100 tonnes of rubbish from waterways around Australia.
“Bundaberg Regional Council put out a tender to clean the waterways on a regular basis for the next two years, which means you’ll see quite a lot of us around here,” Ian said.
“We’re excited to come to Bundy to do this work.
“We’re not your average clean-up crew, and this year we cracked 105 tonnes, which is about 450kg every single day of the year.
“We brought up our 7m landing barge to Bundaberg, which is custom built for waterway cleaning and we’ve got a 4WD crane truck, so we come prepared; we just play at a different level.”
The vessel has ability to carry large loads, has easy access with the bow door and twin engines to give it manoeuvrability and speed.
When light it can travel at 30 knots, however more often it crawls along banks, often with the vacuum onboard sucking up tonnes of debris.
43 tyres on first day of clean-up
On their very first day of cleaning, Ocean Crusaders collected 1860kgs of illegally dumped rubbish along Kirbys Wall.
The litter was collected and taken to one of Council’s waste facilities where it will be sorted for recycling or disposal to landfill.
Ian said the rubbish included 43 tyres, two fridges and various assorted trash.
“A lot of the stuff we’re finding is from flood damage, but on the first day along Kirbys Wall there was a lot of illegal dumping,” he said.
“Forty-three tyres all rolled off the edge, and we actually believe that someone was trying to dump tyres while we there, but we caught them in the act and they turned around and ran away.
Council has two officers who investigate illegal dumping and the information was provided to them for action.
Ocean Crusaders welcome volunteers to assist.
Ian said there’s an opportunity on Sunday from 8am to 10am for people to help clean up Mariners Way.
“Pretty much every day, we can allow three to four volunteers onto the boat with us to help out,” he said.
“In particular, this Sunday there will be an opportunity for everyone to come out to Mariners Way along the river bank and help and also show them that all the rubbish there is coming from town.
“It’s a really good education program, even for the youngsters to see where rubbish ends up.
“Hopefully, we can get it there before it ends up in the ocean and in the mouths of turtles.”
Bundaberg Regional Council parks and gardens spokesperson Wayne Honor said the work was of significant environmental importance to the region.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure our river systems remain clean,” Cr Honor said.
“Council is very passionate about the environment, especially improving the quality and cleanliness of our local waterways.
“It’s important we do everything we can to minimise the devastating impact of litter on local wildlife.
“The rubbish in our waterways is everybody’s problem, and so everybody has a responsibility to be part of the solution.
“Ocean Crusaders are there to clean our waterways, but ultimately we need to reduce what goes into them because it is a great shame to see rubbish on the side of the roads, in creeks and in bushland around our beautiful region.”
There are significant fines that apply for illegal dumping, including up to $667,250 for corporations that are found to be illegally dumping waste.
People can report illegal dumping online here.