The Sheffield branch of the Canal and River Trust is urging people to sign up to an adoption scheme to take care of a particular stretch of affected waterway. Dave Walker, aged 58, has been the lock keeper at Tinsley Marina for the last 30 years and works for the charity, which protects waterways.
He often has to collect rubbish including cans, bottles, plastic bags and even tyres from the canal and its pathways and insists more needs to be done to tackle the growing problem.
He says the adoption scheme is the best solution.
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“Half of Sheffield live within three miles of a waterway and most people are unaware of that,” he said.
“It’s part of their city and we want people to come and enjoy it and work with us to help make it better for everyone.
“This adoption scheme is a new thing and a unique opportunity for people to get involved by adopting a section of the waterway and doing it up.
“We see it as a way forward for us and it helps to empower people to be respectful and care for their local area.
“It’s open to anyone – it could be a group of dog lovers or even a local school – but we need the community on our side and this adoption scheme is one way of achieving that.”
Twice a year, Dave works with volunteers from Abbeydale Rotary Club and the International Water Association to help clean up the canal.
But he is also urging people not to drop litter in the first place.
“The message to people is just don’t do it – take your rubbish home with you. We need the public to work with us and not against us,” he added.
The rise in litter is something that hasn’t got unnoticed with dog walkers who walk along the canal on a regular basis.
Sue Topham, aged 65, from Handsworth, has used the towpath to walk her dogs to Rotherham for the past five years.
She said: “I don’t know how people can just go to the canals and leave their empty cans behind. We should be making the most of our rivers and canals and it really is depressing to see that people aren’t caring for them properly.”
Alan Fox, aged 75, has lived on a narrowboat in Tinsley Marina with his wife Diane for 14 years and believes many people who come to the canals have no respect for the surrounding area.
“When we go out on our boat some of the rubbish is unbelievable – there are cans, bottles and plastic bags all over the place,” he said.
“You have got to educate people. They just think that because they don’t live here they shouldn’t bother to clean up after themselves.”
The nationwide adoption campaign asks for groups involved to commit to giving up at least one day a month for a year so that they can help to improve their particular section of a canal.
They encourage those who have signed up to keep the canal and towpath clean, lead guided walks along the waterway and help to improve wildlife habitats.
The scheme usually attracts Scouts and Girl Guides groups as well as parish councils but any organisation that wants to do their bit can get involved.
To find out more about adopting a canal, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk