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See how this Scintilla Charter Academy student is helping keep Valdosta's waterways clean

Eleven-year-old Saige Williams created a trash trap to keep garbage out of the Withlacoochee River.
Posted at 6:08 PM, Oct 19, 2023
  • Saige Williams' efforts to clean the Withlacoochee River saves two 96 gallon cans of trash from reaching the river per month.
  • The Withlacoochee River has seen hundreds of gallons of trash and sewage contamination.
  • Watch the video to see how Saige built a trash trap to clean up the waterways.


Withlacoochee River is so beautiful. You know what's not so beautiful?

Picking up trash.

I'm Malia Thomas, in Valdosta.

You've got to see how an 11-year-old student is working to keep our waterways clean.

"I think the world could be a better place without piles of trash everywhere."

Just a year ago, splashing around in the creek didn't seem like a great idea, but now, neighbors aren't hesitating to take a dip.

We all can thank Saige Williams for that.

Saige is a 7th grader at Scintilla Charter Academy. She tells me she loves the creek, and she loves to.

"Come here and just relax. I would really like if I could come here and study, but I don't know if we have the time to do that."

Saige also tells me that seeing the huge amount of trash and reports of contamination disturbed her.

Trash hasn't been the only issue for the river.

I checked with the city.

Back in July of last year, more than 120,000 gallons of sewage entered Sugar Creek in Georgia.

Since Withlacoochee is connected to Sugar Creek, the Florida Department of Health had to issue a warning.

Russell McBride, Saige's grandfather, has also been keeping the river clean in his free time, and even helped her come up with her own trash trap and petition the city to get a real WaterGoat.

"And we got the largest WaterGoat in Georgia, right here."

Saige's efforts even earned her a proclamation from the mayor, but her and her grandfather are mostly excited about protecting the wildlife and keeping the river beautiful.

"There are fish, little brim. There's bass, and there's little minnows , and we've seen raccoon down here. Saige and I saw two otters right up on the bank right there."

"We have a lot of animals who are being harmed right now. I don't think we can afford to lose anymore."

The city and county will be hosting their joint river clean up on October 20th.

In Valdosta, I’m Malia Thomas, ABC27.