Like many others during the coronavirus pandemic, the Clean River Project—which has been clearing the Merrimack River of cars, bicycles, hypodermic needles and more since 2005—found its money drying up.
Founder Rocky Morrison said there was a desperate need to add a boat to keep up with the ever-growing amount of debris in the waterway.
“We took a hit with the COVID-19. All the big sponsors—all the big corporations and companies that usually send their employees out and help us with our budget. Actually, they all just backed off,” he explained.
Well, Morrison added, not everyone. Haverhill-based Covanta—the energy-from-waste firm—stepped up. For many years, Covanta and the Clean River Project have teamed up each season to evaluate current needs. He said they agreed a custom boat was on the top of the list.
“This thing is all aluminum. This is a heavy-duty boat and Covanta was one of our main supporters on the boat being built,” he said.
Morrison said the boat will be called the Covanta boat and it will be visible in downtown Haverhill cleaning the river. He explained the Clean Water Project has specialized needs.
“All of the boats are custom made to take the abuse from all of the cleaning in the river,” he noted.
“Our commitment in powering today and protecting tomorrow compels us to continue our participation in maintaining and protecting the precious resources of the Merrimack river watershed,” said Covanta Market Area Manager Mark Van Weelden.
In fact, it is not the first time Covanta helped with a major piece of gear. Two years ago, the Clean River Project lost a motor on one of its prime clean up boats. Morrison said the company provided a $12,000 engine.
Covanta’s Haverhill Facility Manager Bill Zaneski said he has personally witnessed the organization in action.
“Rocky and his team of volunteers are relentless in their efforts to keep the Merrimack clean. Myself and members from our Haverhill facility have been on cleanup runs up and down the river each year. It is truly amazing how much material is removed, making the river both cleaner and safer for all to use,” he said.