Following a week of activities to celebrate and help preserve San Diego's namesake river, the 18th annual San Diego River Days culminates in its biggest event Friday morning with a volunteer cleanup to remove tons of trash and debris from the riverbed.
Assemblyman Chris Ward, D-San Diego, and City Councilman Raul Campillo will join dozens of volunteers for the cleanup, and to discuss the importance of local efforts to preserve and restore the 52-mile San Diego River, which stretches from Ocean Beach to Julian.
The event began at 9 a.m. at Mission Valley Preserve, on the west side of YMCA parking lot, 5505 Friars Rd.
San Diego River Days is hosted by the San Diego River Park Foundation in partnership with a dozen organizations and businesses. The nine-day event, which ends Sunday, is open to the public with several activities, including educational events for children and families, virtual workshops and guided hikes.
"The San Diego River is one of our most precious natural resources and we must continue to give it the care and attention it deserves," said Kris McFadden, the city's transportation and stormwater department director.
"We've taken significant steps in recent years to protect the water quality and environmental health of the watershed under San Diego's control."
This year's activities are free to the public thanks to the sponsorship of Think Blue, the transportation and stormwater department's clean waterways, flood-safe program.
"There's still a lot of work to do, and events like this help draw attention, build partnerships and educate everyone about how important it is to preserve this river," McFadden said.
The city has taken several actions to protect and enhance water quality by removing and preventing pollutants such as trash and bacteria from entering waterways.
It's also taken steps to restore the river, including twice-weekly cleanups, which so far has removed more than 98 tons of trash and debris this fiscal year.
The city has also partnered with the SDRPF to reduce trash from homeless encampments and enhance street sweeping and catch-basin cleaning.