Early figures show nearly 4 tonnes of rubbish were removed from the lake and its shores by volunteers during the 8th edition of the lake cleaning event called Net’Léman. “Net” is short for the French word nettoyer and Léman the local name for Lake Geneva, although some locals at the Geneva end of the lake call it Lac de Genève.
The event attracted over 1,000 volunteers, 240 divers and 780 land-based rubbish collectors, who collected garbage over the weekend. Volunteers worked from 12 sites spread across both the French and Swiss sides of the lake according to the Association pour la sauvegarde du Léman (ASL), the event’s organiser.
Over the weekend the average water temperature in the lake was 13 degrees and dives lasted around 50 minutes on average. Divers removed large quantities of junk near jetties including shopping trolleys, bikes, scooters, batteries and tires. Those on the shore picked up large amounts of plastic, cans, glass bottles, caps and cigarette butts.
Unsurprisingly, the largest quantities of rubbish were found near urban areas, near wharfs and jetties explained Amanda Melis a spokesperson from ASL. At the last event in 2014, volunteers removed 9 tonnes of garbage from the lake. While there was less heavy rubbish this year, light trash such as plastic bottles, were abundant.
Clean Beaches, a cleanup project managed by Shannon and Roger Erismann based in the Riviera region at the opposite end of the lake to Geneva, runs throughout the year. Roger, a Swiss resident and California native, recently told Le News that keeping the lake clean needs to start far from the lake shore. Much of the rubbish that ends up on beaches and in the lake comes via the rivers that flow into it.
On 14 March 2o16 Clean Beaches found 1,366 items. Common items were fragments of building materials and wadding from shotgun cartridges discarded by hunters. A recent report by the group provides detail on the problem.