Volunteers pulled tires, scrap metal, and even cars out of the Cumberland River on Saturday in Harlan County.
The clean-up was sponsored by the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.
The Cumberland River begins flowing in Harlan County at its headwaters.
The waterway continues into the Mississippi River and impacts everything in between.
"Water is life. Without water we don't survive," said Kelly Cook, Kentucky Waterways Alliance Membership Coordinator.
And because the river is a vital waterway, more than 50 people got together to clean it up.
Volunteers worked for hours pulling trash out of the waterway.
Harlan native Cathryn Forester brought Kentucky Waterways Alliance to the clean-up by winning a contest.
Forester says she entered the contest because the Cumberland River needs cleaning and to be noticed.
"I want there to be fish in the river again. I want kids to be able to play in the river again. And I want people to realize what a vital life source it is," said Forester, who organized the clean-up.
Water officials say waterways should be cleaned at least once a year.
"Anything that's in the water is going to pollute the water if it doesn't belong there. It's not organic," said Cook.
With a cleaner river, community members hope to increase recreation and tourism.
"It has to get clean so other people can come and enjoy what we know is heaven," said Forester.
Water officials say healthy waters lead to a healthy community.
After hours of clean-up, volunteers celebrated this vital water source in their community with food and door prizes.