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Lanier cleanup set for Saturday: Tons of trash surfacing because of drought
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Some pretty obscure brands of beer are surfacing on the shores of Lake Lanier these days.

Many of the rust-covered cans haven’t been seen in decades. Most are of the pop-top variety.

"All the sins of the ’70s are coming to roost," joked Bonny Putney, a board member of Rivers Alive, a group that promotes cleanups of waterways across the state.

This Saturday, for the second straight week, volunteers will be scouring the drought-stricken banks — now a record 19.5 feet below fool pool — for garbage. And it won’t take much work to find it.

"It was absolutely amazing, the volume of trash out there," said Jack Perko, district manager of the Georgia District of Allied Waste, which has donated manpower and equipment to the lake-cleaning efforts. "Everything from boat motors to tires, fishing rods, clothes — debris of all sorts."

Last weekend a group of about 50 people fanned out near the Lake Lanier Islands Resort. This time, they’re convening at Mary Alice Park in Cumming. The cleanup lasts from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"I would love to get a couple of tons," Putney said, noting that last weekend’s four-hour project netted three tons of refuse.

She anticipates good weather, a good turnout and plenty of trash to collect.

"Looking out on the shoreline, we could see about six (boat) batteries," Putney said. "So, I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be an interesting cleanup."

Rivers Alive plans more cleanup projects throughout the winter, taking full advantage of the unprecedented low lake levels, Putney said.

"We’ve decided to make lemonade out of lemons, and get this trash out of here," she said.

Plenty of trash-collecting work is left for those who will do it — Lake Lanier has 692 miles of shoreline.

Perko, the Allied Waste manager, compared the low lake levels to a tub that’s been drained, leaving behind a dirt ring.

"Now we’re seeing the ring around the top of the tub," he said. "We haven’t even scratched the surface."