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Vodka company helps with river clean up effort

Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 12:56 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - What do vodka and the Ohio River have in common? Tuesday, it was an effort to create a more sustainable world.

Louisville-based Finlandia Vodka partnered with Living Lands and Waters to deep clean Louisville’s natural backdrop.

Chad Pregracke started digging through the Ohio 25 years ago when he started Living Lands and Waters.

“The Ohio River really is a treasure,” Pregracke said.

Pregracke’s barge is the river’s lost and found. From tires, dolls, helmets, trash, debris and items with a category of their own.

Pregracke’s barge is the river’s lost and found.
Pregracke’s barge is the river’s lost and found.(WAVE 3 News)

“It’s really the focus of the community,” Pregracke said. “So, the last thing you want is to see a bunch of barrels tires appliances.”

Pregracke said in 25 years he went from one boat, to five barges, two towboats and removed over 11 million pounds of garbage with 118,000 volunteers like the ladies of Finlandia Vodka.

Why’s Finlandia joining the clean-up? Because water isn’t just for after a late night.

Jessica Rives is Finlandia’s marketing associate brand manager. Tuesday was her second time volunteering with Living Lands and Waters.

“Finlandia couldn’t exist without pure glacial spring water,” Rives said. “So, giving back to the environment and helping keep our waterways clean is essential for us.”

What lives in the water and under the river? According to a full wall in the back of the Pregracke’s barge, it actually is SpongeBob SquarePants, in addition to several items Pregracke said are dumped in from humans and floods.

A full wall of items found in the Ohio River.
A full wall of items found in the Ohio River.(WAVE 3 News)

“It’s just bad for the water,” Pregracke said. “And since we drink the water that’s not a good thing.”

No matter how debris gets in the water, Pregracke said 25 years later he’s still sticking to cleaning it. The only difference is now, more people are willing to help.

Finlandia Vodka stated a donation of $30,000 to Living Lands and Waters, to support the crew who spend up to nine months each year living and traveling on a barge.

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