MONTREAL -- Old bicycles, sewer cover, loads of beer cans and a porcelain pig pepper shaker were among the items pulled from the St. Lawrence River on Saturday during an annual clean-up operation.

This year, the group of environmentalists focused on a portion of the river in Kahnawake. Divers scoured the bottom of the waterway, locating a wide array of junk.

“I do believe that we need a little bit more awareness regarding the use of our river,” said environmentalist Nathalie Lasselin, an underwater explorder and filmmaker who led the diving team.

Since 2018, the group behind the operation has pulled 10 tonnes of scrap from the St. Lawrence. Two years ago, they located stacks of old tires, a parking meter, a motorcycle and a gun.

“The St. Lawrence is the source of drinking and tap water for 80 per cent of the population of Montreal and for 50 per cent of the population of Quebec,” said Lasselin. “We just take it for granted.”

In spite of the 627 kilograms of garbage pulled from the river on Saturday, Lasselin said that, generally speaking, the river has been getting cleaner as more people become aware of the environment.

“For the trash, depending on where you are in Montreal, some of the places are getting really nice. Some of them need a lot of attention. It's not that bad, but we can do so much better.”

Onawa Jacobs of the Kahnawake Environmental Protection Office, however, said it can be hard to see Quebecers not taking care of their natural resource.

“It's really frustrating to see community members not respecting the territory.”

The trush hunts will continue throughout the summer, with a goal of removing 1,000 tonnes of garbage from the St. Lawrence.