The annual cleanup of the upper Cowichan River sees volunteers active on, under, and alongside the water. (Gazette file)

The annual cleanup of the upper Cowichan River sees volunteers active on, under, and alongside the water. (Gazette file)

Divers go deep to clean up the Cowichan River

Tube Shack hiring divers to clean the deep parts as annual trash tour returns this weekend

This year’s upper Cowichan River clean up is set to take place on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Organized annually by the Tube Shack, the goal is to give back to the river that’s given so much of itself to the community and tourists alike all summer long.

Admittedly, the tubing season got off to a rough start this year, said Tube Shack owner Aaron Frisby. The weather wasn’t conducive to hours-long floats.

“It was a very slow start,” he said. “The first three weeks were tough but once the sun came out the demand for it was still there.”

The tubers came in droves. And where there are people, there tends to be garbage.

While the company does daily river cleanups, inevitably some things can’t be reached easily. This event is the final sweep of the season and will do a deeper clean of the river. Frisby said this year will be different than past years.

“We’ve got Sundown Diving coming down to get the deeper parts. There’s nothing really on the surface or in the shallower parts — we can get that,” Frisby explained of his staff’s daily river cleaning.

Volunteers this year are welcome though they won’t be needed in the same capacity as in years past. They’ll mainly be there to support the divers.

Frisby recalled a decade ago when the river was in much worse shape.

“It’s getting a lot better,” he said. “We’ve gone from 10 years ago when they were pulling 12-volt batteries and fridges out of the river to just cans and stuff,” he said.

One thing that won’t be in the river this year or in future years are any of the Tube Shack’s sunken paddles. The company’s old paddles sometimes filled with water and were prone to sinking. Frisby explained that in their continuing quest to be stewards of the river, “We’ve upgraded to paddles that don’t sink now,” he said.

The upper river clean up runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at Saywell Park to check in.

Sponsored by the Cowichan Watershed Board, the annual lower Cowichan River clean-up took place Sunday, Aug. 28.

“This soul satisfying annual event removes truck-loads of garbage from about 15 kilometres of the iconic Cowichan River every year before the fall rains return and wash it all downstream,” said a notice from the Cowichan Watershed Board. “Think of it as welcoming the salmon home!”

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Lake Cowichan