Currents October 2021

Did you know that the Great Lakes are the biggest freshwater source in the world? Lake Erie is the most productive for fishing of all the Great Lakes. Your support helps make our streams clean, clear and healthy so they can support this complex ecosystem. By donating to PCS, you help us reach our goals of restoring rivers that lead to Lake Erie beaches that promote fishable and swimmable conditions for generations.

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Storm Drain Fall brings out extraordinary colors in our trees. Hues of reds, yellows, and orangey foliage grace the sky, our yards, and storm drains! Storm drains are an important part of redirecting excess water so our neighborhoods do not flood. This is why it is important that our neighbors know that leaves in storm drains impact our water quality and water flow. During this season it is important to let your neighbors know the impacts of leaves and other yard debris have on our water quality! 

The storm drains in our neighborhood lead straight into our waterways without any treatment. This means anything but pure rainwater is a potential contaminant that negatively impacts water quality, as stormwater runoff often carries nutrients, sediment, trash, and E. coli with it—that includes leaves! Plus, leaves in the storm drain clog our drains and can cause unnecessary flooding and harm to our city’s pipes. Storm Drain Marking is an easy process to notify our neighbors that what goes into the storm drains comes out in our waterways untreated. To learn more, and pledge to keep your storm drain litter and leaf-free, check out the Toledo Lake Erie, Clear Choices, Clean Water website.

Once winter hits Storm Drain Marking will go into hibernation until spring 2022--when the weather permits us to be able to either stencil a painted message or glue a medallion to our storm drains. We will supply all of the equipment; all we need from you is a location so we can get it pre-approved and your waivers.  Fill out this form to let us know you are interested.


ICC This year is our 25th International Coastal Clean-up (ICC), which we call Clean Your Streams Day locally. Our cleanup pre-dates Partners for Clean Streams, which was founded in 2007. Clean Your Streams Day is one of our most known programs, though we do much more behind-the-scenes to work to benefit the water quality for Lake Erie.

Our sites are along the Maumee River, one of the largest Great Lakes tributaries in the U.S. As an inland cleanup, we have always been a bit different. Instead of flip flops and pretty beaches in our pictures, we have volunteers digging water heaters out of the mud, shopping carts out of the muck, and hauling countless “other” items not listed on the data card up the banks of the creeks.

Our sites range from little roadside ditches (important capillaries of the wider stream network) to our downtown port with barges in the background. In our wide mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas, cleaning the smallest ditches to the widest mouth of our largest tributary, provides a connection to our waterways, and to our great Lake that is tangible and visible to people often isolated from inland water. We clean up marine debris before it makes it to the actual “marine” environment. But what is not different from every other cleanup in the world, is our volunteer's desire year after year to make their community a cleaner and prettier place to enjoy our waterways and to make a difference, one cigarette butt, and food wrapper at a time.

A lot has changed in 25 years, while much has stayed the same. In 2020, like everyone, we had to adapt. Our cleanup became a ten-day hybrid of in-person, smaller teams and those who did a clean-up somewhere on their own with the Clean Swell app. Together we still made an impact – 255 volunteers attended in-person cleanups and 176 completed their own cleanup during September across 79 different sites, removing nearly 17,000 pounds!

With the virtual-remote option volunteers could participate, in whatever way they were comfortable, and to know they were not alone to others who were also cleaning their streams. We noticed that cleanups happened in areas we had not been before, on a wider swath of Northwest Ohio (and southeast Michigan!) Some families even did repeat cleanups.

We again approached this year as a hybrid, but rather than the virtual-remote option being an adaptation we were forced to make, we see it as a wider net we can cast to be inclusive and flexible. In doing this, we are able to provide an opportunity for as many people as possible to participate. In a time when we all want to feel connected to our environment, to each other, and to our greater community we felt that this was an integral option to include in Clean Your Streams Day.

Overall these years, what sticks with us is the volunteers, both young and old(er), who come and make the connections that they can be active stewards of our rivers. And some of those kids even grow up to work in the environmental field too! So, for us, Clean Your Streams is more than a cleanup – it is a way to connect people to our rivers and streams, and each other.

Frag MicroMicroplastics are plastics that are less than 5 mm in size and a lot about them is unknown. Research has shown that microplastics can cause physical harm to wildlife when ingested. Microplastics can absorb other chemicals, such as trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, and some pathogens. Initial research has also suggested that plastic additives can contribute to disruption in the endocrine system and possibly cancer when plastic degrades. Currently, there are five types of microplastics categorized by the USGS: fibers, foam, fragments, beads/pellets, and film. This categorization was from a study of microplastics in the Great Lakes Region published in 2016 by USGS.

Fragment microplastics are the result of plastic items such as bottles, toys, cups, utensils, and breaking down in our water supply. From the USGS study, researchers found that in water run-off events, or times when it rained, there were significantly more fragments out water supply. We are partners on the Trash Trappers for a Cleaner Toledo Project for Trash Free Waters Toledo. Toledo is installing trash trappers to take care of the microplastics and plastic marine debris before it becomes microplastics in the water while we help remove the marine debris on land before it enters our waterways.  

CYS 25 PrilimDespite the rain, the Silver Anniversary of Clean Your Streams Day was successful - all because of you! After processing the (wet) data cards we are proud to announce that together we removed 7,613 pounds of trash; but wait more details on what was found will be coming soon!

Interesting finds included an office chair, traffic cone, 70 empty teddy graham plastic cups, tow hitch, pool noodle, decoy goose, glow sticks, fake flowers, a car grill, three flip flops, and a City of Toledo Astro e-scooter.

We will share the complete impact on our social media soon. A deep thank you to every one of the 465 volunteers that showed up on September 25th or participated virtually from September 18th - 25th. You truly made a positive impact on our waterways for our communities, clean water, and wildlife. Special thanks to Toledo Early College High School that brought the largest group, 105 volunteers, to help clean our waterways.

If you did not receive a shirt, please fill out this formOur grant funders and donors made it possible, to have another great Clean Your Streams program. Want to ensure our streams stay clean for years to come? Donate here.

Currents: October 2021

Your donation, no matter how small, can make a huge difference in the long run. Every penny goes a long way in protecting your water.

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Bob Neubert

President of the Board
Lucas Co. Engineers

Andrew Curran
Vice President
Assistant Scout Executive,
Boy Scouts of America

Joan King
First Solar

Kyle Spicer
Private Citizen

Denise Fonner
Board Member
Private Citizen

Chris Smalley
Board Member
Park Services Supervisor
Metroparks of the Toledo Area

Bill Hoefflin
Board Member
Private Citizen

Bill Buri
Board Member
Pexco Packaging

Marilyn DuFour
Board Member
Private Citizen


Partners for Clean Streams Inc. is striving for abundant open space and a high quality natural environment; adequate floodwater storage capacities and flourishing wildlife; stakeholders who take local ownership in their resources; and rivers, streams and lakes that are clean, clear and safe