Kentucky River Authority announces return of River Sweep

Published 3:30 pm Thursday, August 5, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. — After a brief hiatus in 2020, the Kentucky River Authority’s annual River Sweep is back, this time with a virtual component.

Since 1994, the annual River Sweep has drawn hundreds of families from 20 counties to the banks of the Kentucky River to remove trash and debris. Early years of the sweep saw large toxic items such as refrigerators and other appliances pulled from the river, while more recent sweeps have produced literal tons of trash and recyclable materials from the water. In fact, in 2019 more than 700 volunteers pulled about 6,500 pounds of trash from the river, filling nearly a thousand garbage bags.

Last year’s Sweep was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which organizers fear may lead to higher-than-usual trash and debris levels in the River.

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“Taking a year off from the River Sweep was necessary for the health and safety of our community, but we are concerned it was harmful to the health of our river,” said Sue Elliston, coordinator of Kentucky River Authority’s River Sweep. “We’re hopeful we’ll have more volunteers than ever before this year to ensure we remove as much trash and debris as we can.”

This year’s River Sweep will take place on August 21 in Clark County from 9:00am-12:00pm. Additionally, volunteers may choose to take part in a virtual River Sweep from August 7 to 21. In-person and virtual participants will be provided with trash bags and T-shirts. For information, email

The annual River Sweep event is an effort to help maintain the cleanliness of the river basin and tributaries. Stretching more than 250 miles across Kentucky, the Kentucky River supplies clean water to more than 700,000 people along its route.