City, nonprofits organize to form clean water partnership

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

The inadvertent candy wrapper, plastic garbage bag or soda can that falls out of a parked vehicle or blows out of an open dumpster ends up somewhere if it is not properly picked up.  When it hits the parking lot, it is either blown, or washed into the unseen ditch or drainage way. This ditch carries the unwanted floatables to the streams during rain events and is never seen again, right? One stream leads to another, and moves from one community to the next, and that careless trash flows with it.
What can concerned citizens and business owners of Opelika do to prevent this? What if store and business owners were led, educated, and promoted to take a little time out of each day to make sure that the candy wrapper did not make it to the ditch or the trash dumpster lids were secure?  What if these stores and businesses were provided guidance, education and recognition for their efforts and measured improvements were made to the appearance and tidiness of their area? Would this affect the condition of streams in the area and the rivers that flow from it?
The City of Opelika, Opelika Chamber of Commerce, Opelika Utilities, Keep Opelika Beautiful, and Save Our Saugahatchee are the parent organizations that are looking to create a group called Opelika Business Clean Water Partnership (OBCWP.) This organization will get local businesses and retailers involved in keeping their parking lots and grounds picked up and litter free. A small sample of businesses in one particular area have been identified and contacted to become part of the OBCWP pilot program, but all of the City of Opelika’s businesses are welcome to participate. There will be open invitation for an introduction breakfast and learning session on Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Opelika Chamber of Commerce.  All participants will be eligible for employee education, promotion and recognition if they are interested in joining the Partnership.  If this pilot program is successful, more blocks of businesses will be contacted, and additional promotional opportunities will be offered to grow the program.  Ultimately, this has the potential to become a city- wide, or even region-wide movement.
The fact of the matter is that all litter on the roads, yards and parking lots ends up Opelika’s waterways. This movement and the OBCWP will do its part to get everyone involved to help the city meet and exceed the clean goals that will keep Opelika beautiful.

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