Rubbish! Keeping South Lake Union Pristine

Sean Walters and Helen Harris SOUTH LAKE UNION – Bundled-up with the mercury dipping into the mid 40s, Sean Walters and Helen Harris were hard at work on an early January morning in their donated kayaks plucking plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and other castaway rubbish from the pebbled shores of South Lake Union.

Sean and Helen, both volunteers, are among a group of four regulars from the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance that meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. - rain or shine - at the NW Outdoor Center along Westlake Ave. to paddle the shores of Seattle’s 500-acre urban lake filling five-pound yellow trash bags with the unwanted flotsam.

For Harris, a native New Englander and life-long paddler who lives in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, doing her part to keep the South Lake Union shoreline unpolluted is as important as just getting on the water and having fun in the dead of winter.

Kathryn Davis

“I love the water and I like clean water that we can enjoy,” said Harris, who expected the group would fill eight five-pound bags during their two-hour shift navigating the lake’s hard-to-reach shallows, narrow spaces between moored yachts and public beaches.

And the effort was a success, said Puget Soundkeeper Stewardship Coordinator Kathryn Davis who was guiding the two-kayak outing.

“That’s a pretty good haul for today," she said.  "We're having fun."

To learn more about how you can make a difference in the South Lake Union neighborhood, attend February's South Lake Union Community Council meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. at the Museum of History and Industry.  Or to get on the water right away and help keep South Lake Union’s shores pristine, visit