ANDOVER — The Merrimack River provides drinking water for Andover residents, yet its condition is "deplorable," according to Lindsay Strozza-Concemi, who has lived in the town for seven years.

While walking along the shore of the river, she said she has found gasoline cans, television sets, car parts, computer keyboards, hypodermic needles and other trash. She said she has filled many trash bags with debris from the river bank.

Strozza-Concemi has also started an online petition that demands that the town clean up Andover's section of the river. So far, 413 people have signed the petition, she said.

The petition can be accessed on Facebook under the heading Save the Merrimack.

Strozza-Concemi has three young sons. She does not want them to drink polluted water, she said.

The Merrimack River supplies Haggetts Pond, Andover's reservoir. Strozza-Concemi said she was told the town has a "state-of-the-art" water treatment plant at the pond.

That, however, should not give the town and its residents an excuse to ignore the trash near and in the Merrimack River, she said.

Strozza-Concemi said the town should consider hiring Clean River Project, a nonprofit organization that has been removing trash – including cars – from the Merrimack for 15 years.

Clean River Project has already been hired by Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill and Chelmsford to clean up their sections of the river, according to Rocky Morrison, executive director of the organization.

Clean River Project uses 100-foot booms to trap trash in the river. A hydraulic excavator mounted on a boat removes the trash.

Ultimately, the trash is hauled to Covanta Energy in Haverhill, where it's incinerated, Morrison said.

Clean River Project has removed 83 vehicles, more than 200 tons of floatable trash and more than 10,000 tires from the river during the last 15 years, Morrison said. He would like to offer his organization's services to Andover, he said.

Asked how much the town would have to pay for a contract with Clean River Project, Morrison said that cost would have to be calculated.

 

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