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Cleaning the Potomac Watershed

131 tons of trash removed in three hours on Saturday.

More than 3,400 volunteers across Virginia, Maryland and Washington braved the rain and wind last Saturday to pick up trash during the 18th Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup.

Some 131 tons of trash was removed in just three hours at nearly 300 cleanup sites along the watershed. Lined up, the collected bags of trash would stretch 3.5 miles.

Among the more interesting items found were a vending machine, a Kabuki mask, a full bottle of chardonnay, a big plastic gingerbread man, 1932 boat motor and a freezer with pigs feet inside.

Recently, 22 elected officials signed the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty, which pledges to create a trash-free Potomac by 2013.

The Potomac River Watershed is the area of land and water that catches rain, snow, and water that drains or seeps into the Potomac River. Each day the river and its tributaries supply about 500 million gallons of fresh drinking water. Nearly 5 million people live in the Potomac River basin and benefit from its economic contributions to tourism, transportation and agriculture.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation, a nonprofit environmental education organization, coordinates the annual cleanup.