WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A diverse group of teenagers is uniting for a strong show of teamwork in name of environmental protection in Waterbury.
News 8 caught them Thursday in the Mad River in downtown Waterbury, rolling a big, rusted propane tank out of the waters that feed into the larger Naugatuck River. They’re part of the River Brigade and work with Waterbury PAL officers to help care for the environment.
And they’re definitely taking great care. News 8 witnessed them hauling out the propane tank, a huge tire, a huge steel beam, and smaller items like soda cans and water bottles that people tossed into the water.
“I feel really bad about it — what’s happening to our rivers,” said Brigade member, William Daly.
But, when Daly thinks about all of the trash and junk they’ve personally pulled out, he changes his tune.
“We can come together and make a difference in this world,” he said.
Other Brigade members are just as proud.
“Because I’m making a change in our environment,” said Brandon Pittman.
Police officers from Waterbury’s PAL program are there to encourage them and let them know what they’re doing now could pay off for years to come.
“This is just incredible just to clean this river, just to have the passion and hopefully one day these guys can take their families and kids into the river and go swimming with their families and just enjoy it,” said Waterbury PAL Officer Querino Maia.
The River Brigade was created by Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary as part of a pledge to clean up the Naugatuck River after a raw sewage spill from the city’s wastewater treatment plant killed scores of fish a few years ago.
The teens work six weeks during the summer, making about $11 an hour. Over the years, they’ve hauled out piles of trash. Returning members can see the impact they’re making just looking at the water.
“It used to be all trash and debris everywhere,” Daly said. “Now it looks like a clean, flowing river.”