"The Savannah River gets the third largest amount of toxic releases in the U.S."
That's a startling statistic and a big reason the Savannah Riverkeeper was founded in 2001.
According to Tonya Bonitatibus, executive director and official Riverkeeper of the group, the river is crucial to Savannah and the organization wants to make sure South Carolina and Georgia are able to protect the 10,000 square miles of waterways covering both states.
"We are a nonprofit organization that serves as the spokesperson for the Savannah River," she adds. "We are an advocacy group and we are very active in clean up ... So far we've removed about 26 tons of garbage."
She says the group removes everything from "boats, tires, old shingles, TVs, road cones - all kinds of stuff."
"We try to make sure the industries and everyone else is sharing the river equally," she says.
For five years in a row, the group has hosted a fundraising oyster roast at Hogan's Marina, but this year, they plan to do something different.
"Oyster roasts are quite common in Savannah, so we tried to bring Augusta (where the group is based) and upper basin Georgia down to Savannah and bring a little of the river down with us."
The Pick & Pinch takes place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and will feature barbecue pulled pork and boiled crawfish. Beers are provided by SweetWater Brewing Company, and Savannah band City Hotel will perform.
"It's casual and it will be outdoors, so people may need to bring jackets," Bonitatibus adds.
A silent auction will also feature local art, rare books about the Savannah River, kayak trips and more. There will also be a raffle for a kayak from Half-Moon Outfitters.
Tickets are $35 per person or $50 per couple, and members receive a $10 discount.
"There is also a VIP ticket at $75 person," she says. "You'll be able to take a boat ride from Richardson Creek on a pontoon boat - a wine and cheese cruise - with Jane Griess from the Savannah Wildlife Refuge."
VIP ticket holders also get a "cool Pick & Pinch T-shirt," she says. All proceeds from the Pick & Pinch go directly to Savannah Riverkeeper.
"Everyone can get involved with helping keep our river clean and safe," Bonitatibus says. "People can either help through a cleanup activity posted on our website or ... if you have a group, call us and we'll help coordinate your own clean up. We would love to help you do it.
"We also work to train volunteers to do adopt-a-stream programs and citizen monitoring programs.
"It's really important to stay engaged, especially with the buffer issue coming up. He have a big fight on our hands with the Clean Water Act," she says. "We really need some of those clean water protections so people at the end of the line will have clean water."