Rubbish removal on the river

Roughly 85 tonnes of trash accumulate annually along the Isar in the center of Munich, at a cost of EUR105,000 to the city. In summer, the 8 kilometre stretch of the river which winds its way through the older parts of the city, and includes the popular Flaucher where many locals like to barbecue, is cleaned three to four times a week by up to ten people. When the weather is good, the need for a clean-up can occur daily.

The workers start in the early morning in order to make the banks of the River Isar and the adjacent parks look presentable. This can sometimes take until midday, but is in time for the throngs of people who like to visit in the mid to late afternoon. According to the figures provided by the city, there are seventy-five mesh containers (Gitterboxen) that each have the capacity to hold .5 cubic metres of rubbish. During the grilling season, there is an extra container located at one of the busiest areas of the Flaucher which holds a massive 7 cubic metres of people's refuse. Unfortunately this is not often enough, and during the early summer evenings, sights such as bags or rubbish piles around the base of such huge containers can be expected, along with a lot of rubbish sadly not even making it to the bins provided by the authorities.

Various groups within the city are working together not only to raise awareness about the massive volume of trash collected, but also to confront those who are not taking the clean-up program seriously. Several grassroots citizens' organisations, including 'Die Isarfischer e.V.' and 'Rama Dama', were formed partially as a result of not enough being done to keep this stretch of the Isar as pristine as possible.

Hep Monatzeder insists that the city is taking this issue seriously. "Anyone who still says that the city is relying on private organisations, is sorely mistaken," insists Mr. Monatzeder, one of the city's mayors, and a member of the Green Party of Germany. The Building Administration (Baureferat) has hired an external company to patrol the banks of the Isar, especially at the weekend and on bank holidays.

The rubbish watchmen have been given the authority to remind citizens of their responsibilities by handing out brochures explaining the rules for grilling and rubbish disposal. The irony of handing out fliers that can then become litter is not lost on the editors at The Munich Times. Nevertheless, if one saw the Flaucher several years ago after a weekend of revelry, it cannot be denied that the efforts that the city has made have resulted in a cleaner river bank. If the city decides that the Isar has become an eyesore, and the trash takes away from the city in general, a ban on grilling could very be enacted.

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