1,700 pounds of trash removed from Tennessee River in the Shoals

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) -   An extraordinary river cleanup is wrapping up in the Shoals.

Living Lands & Waters has helped to remove eight million pounds of trash from rivers across the nation. They spent the last four days in the Shoals.

"In our time here I feel like we made it a little bit better, and we left a mark," said Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke, "but we didn't leave it better as in just us, we did it as a whole."

With the partnership of numerous groups around the Shoals, LL&W helped to remove more than 1,700 pounds of garbage as of Tuesday morning.

"This river, and we've been following it all the way down, it is the life blood of the Tennessee Valley," stressed Bucky Edmondson with the Tennessee Valley Authority. "We use it every single day here."

Teams of volunteers helped to remove even toxic items from the river, helping in more ways than one. They collected tires and propane tanks, helping to improve water quality for those who depend on the water.

"These tires will not be releasing benzine into the water," explained David Whiteside, founder of the Tennessee Riverkeeper organization. "Little molecules of Styrofoam will break down in our creeks and fish will get confused and think it's eggs and they'll eat it and it will kill the fish, which hurts our fishing community which is a multi-billion dollar resource in Alabama and Tennessee. So, it's not only pulling out the aesthetic problem of the trash, but these guys are cleaning water quality as well."

Chad Pregracke, who was named CNN Hero of the Year in 2013, hoped he built a bond between dedicated groups in the Shoals. He doesn't want the clean up to stop when they leave Wednesday.

"You guys are now the team that has to carry this on and many, many other issues."

Living Lands & Waters stopped by Decatur before the Shoals, and they have two stops left.

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