With the broad Thompson confluence rolling quietly past, a steady flow of concerned citizens took in river-related activities in Riverside Park on Sunday, including a shoreline cleanup.
The fifth annual Rivers Day drew a relatively small turnout, but more volunteers signed up this year for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national event with a half-dozen local projects in and around Kamloops.
"I feel everyone should care about the environment," said Julie Dixon, organizer of the Rivers Day cleanup and one of several TRU students volunteering at the event. "The world's become so consumer-based, and future generations will have to live here when we're gone."
The cleanup is more than an esthetic exercise, since garbage can adversely affect wildlife, she added. More the 60 people put on green latex gloves and pitched in, aided by the jetsam retrieved from the river bottom last weekend by divers. They scooped up an astonishing array of waste, including an old horse harness, vintage bottles and plenty of cigarette butts, which were separated for recycling.
"Garbage is pretty gross," said Nico Etherington, another TRU student. "It can't be good for the animals."
Megan Rogers, a natural resource science student, supported the lighter side of the event - a carnival-style fishing line to which she attached giveaways for kids - but there were serious topics on her mind.
"Water is crucial," she said. "It's so crucial, especially for little kids. By the time they're older, there will probably be a lot of limitations on how we use water. There will be wars over water, more so than oil."
From the same TRU school, Justin Jackson demonstrated with a 3D model how water moves through Kamloops from source to river.
"We're on a river, so we need to make sure they're protected," said Mayor Peter Milobar. He cited the $40 million invested in a tertiary sewage plant and partnering with the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District on a watershed stewardship plan as prime examples of how the city values the resource.
Through public education, Rivers Day contributes to a "citizen base" to ensure water is treated as carefully as possible, he said.
"It all ties together."
And, if there's a community outreach event in town, can the TRU Enactus club be far away?
Club member Jordan Fraser said they deliver two environmental education programs, one of schools, the other for homeowners.
"We think this is wonderful," she said of the event. "There's a lot of awareness-growing and the kids are loving it."