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Gulf Guardian Award 2019: Renew Our Rivers Conservation Program

>>Jeff Wilkinson: The
Pascagoula River basin covers almost a third of
the state of Mississippi and parts of
western Alabama. And anytime you have a
flood and high water — and we had five high water
events just this year — a lot of trash washes down. And if we don’t intercept
it here, the next stop, if it doesn’t get caught on
the barrier islands, it’s gone.>>Mark Loughman:
Renew Our Rivers is Mississippi Power’s premier environmental stewardship program. We’ve been doing river
cleanups, beach cleanups, a number of bodies of
water in southeastern Mississippi since 2005. We engage not only
employee volunteers, but a number of community
partners, customers, governmental agencies,
and others to help us in this program.>>Jeff Wilkinson: A
cleaner river gives us a better quality of
life experience. And short-term,
that’s why you do it. Long-term, you know that
it’s better for the environment.>>Jennifer Frey: Plastic
is a really big problem and it really has
infiltrated everywhere from our beaches, the
islands, to the smallest bayous.>>Jeff Wilkinson: We get
a lot of plastic bottles, and plastic bottles will
last four hundred years. We get a lot of shoes. There’s a lot of people
hopping around on one flip flop out on the sandbars
because they can’t keep up with both their shoes. And the sad part is, we
never find a matching set>>Mark Loughman: Since we
started with that first cleanup in August of
2005, we’ve had about 120 cleanup events. And we’ve got somewhere
around 5000 volunteers have been involved during
that period of time. And all told, we’ve
collected nearly 400 tons of debris. To kind of put that in
perspective, 400 tons is more than what two Statues
of Liberty would weigh.>>Jennifer Frey: If we
are not cleaning up the areas, it’s going to
affect all of the wildlife that’s out there, it’s
going to impact water quality for the people
that are using these areas, and it’s going to
affect the foods that we’re trying to actually
get out of the Gulf.>>Mark Loughman: We
believe that being environmental stewards
is part of our corporate identity. And so, this program
is something that our employees have
really embraced. They live here. They enjoy spending
time on the water. They really enjoy getting
out and cleaning up the rivers. And, at the end of a
cleanup event, it’s very gratifying when you can
look and see the results of your efforts.>>Jeff Wilkinson:
We all litter some. Accidentally, on purpose,
any number of reasons. And if you make people —
if you show them better practices, and the results
of the better practices, then one day, we’re going
to get an e-mail from Mississippi Power. And they’re going to say,
“Clean up canceled this year because there’s
no trash left.”>>Mark Loughman: We
always hope that the day will come when we don’t
have to do this, but until that day comes, you know,
we’re going to continue to find partners to work
with to try to keep the waterways down here clean.>>Male Speaker:
Congratulations to Mississippi Power Company
for its Renew Our Rivers conservation program, the
first place Gulf Guardian award winner in the
Business and Industry category.

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