Currents | December 2022

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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December 2022

Images from 2022 PCS programs and tabling events. Top left: Navarre Elementary students on a Sandpiper science cruise. Bottom left: Two Scouts stenciling a storm drain. Center: Glass City Marathon Green Team volunteers. Top right: PCS staff Kayla and Liv at Naturally OregonFest. Bottom right: A volunteer removes a construction barrel from Delaware Island on the Maumee River.Carrying last year’s focus on clean-on-your-own volunteering forward, in 2022 the PCS Team continued to promote Clean Your Streams 365 and our Remote Kickoff week leading up to Clean Your Streams Day. However, we also began to return to larger gatherings for in-person programming, outreach, and education, very glad to be safely in shared space with our community again. Compared to last year, we were able to offer more Get the Lead Out sessions, more Storm Drain Marking sessions, and many more staff-lead CYS 365 clean-ups. Clean Your Streams Day participation flourished with 173 more volunteers than last year. Across all our clean-up programs, PCS volunteers removed more than twice as much Northwest Ohio marine debris in 2022 than 2021, with our 2022 total weighing in at 26,320 pounds. This is an incredible feat!

PCS also had a busy year supporting community projects and partnerships. These included educational outreach and clean-ups alongside the City of Toledo’s Trash Trappers, offering stewardship opportunities for TPS students in the UT Lake Erie Center’s “Floating Laboratory on Watershed Science” program, and kicking off our efforts coordinating volunteer water monitoring in Western Lake Erie basin with “Community Water Action in Toledo.” As we’ve done since our founding, we’ve proudly continued our leadership of the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee and its work.

PCS’s adaptation and growth during a time of change are only possible through the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and community partners. If you’d like to make PCS a part of your holiday giving, we encourage you to give via our Facebook Fundraiser. This year, Facebook specifically matches recurring donations, so you can make your gift to Partners for Clean Streams go even further. After your initial donation, your second donation made before December 31, 2022 (up to $100) may be be doubled! You can also donate using our secure PayPal link or send a check to PO Box 203 Perrysburg, OH 43552.

Thank you for keeping “Current” in 2022, and we look forward to seeing you in 2023!

A graphic of a faucet with a water drop over a photograph of the Maumee River with ice.Around the holidays, many of us cook big meals and wind up washing a lot of dishes. There are great opportunities to conserve water (and save money on your water bill!) throughout the season. We’ve put together some of our favorite tips.

First let’s look at the food preparation side. When rinsing fruits and vegetables, rather than running the tap constantly, fill a bowl with water to use for multiple rinses. Water used to boil vegetables can be used to make vegetable broth, which is also a handy way to use your vegetable scraps. You can even go the extra mile and begin composting kitchen scraps this winter. (Ohio EPA put together a handy guide for getting started.) Finally, instead of thawing turkeys and other meats in hot water, plan ahead to put these items in your refrigerator. The USDA recommends that when meat is thawed in water, the water should be changed every 30 minutes to reduce the risk of pathogens – this is a huge water expense that can be eliminated just by defrosting in the fridge.

After a big holiday dinner, there are bound to be lots of dirty dishes. Scraping food waste into the trash or a composting bin offers a chance to save water by not running the sink for an unneeded pre-rinse. When it comes to actually washing dishes, rather than constantly run the tap, use a pre-filled sink. With two sinks of water, you can fill one with soapy water for washing and one with clear water for rinsing clean. If you have a dishwasher, these almost always use less water than washing dishes by hand.

You can also encourage holiday house guests to take up water saving practices you probably do already: only running full loads of laundry, turning off the washer when brushing teeth, and taking care to use just one glass throughout a meal to cut down on the number of dishes to be washed. Personalizing guest glasses offers a chance to be festive and creative with charms, markers, or paint pens.

Happy holidays and warm winter wishes from the PCS Team.

A photo of a common snapping turtle, the most recent animal to have consumption restrictions removed in the Maumee AOC.Earlier this autumn, the Maumee Area of Concern achieved a major milestone: Beneficial Use Impairment 1, Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption, was removed! In sharing this achievement, we wanted to offer a refresher on what we do as the facilitating organization, what BUIs are, and why this removal matters.

The Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) was established in 1987 by an amendment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, designating a portion of the lower Maumee River and nearby Lake Erie tributaries as a region that needed special attention. The Maumee AOC was given a report card of beneficial use impairments (BUIs): ways of measuring environmental damage. Some example BUIs include “Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption,” “Beach Closings” or “Degradation of Aesthetics.” Once restoration criteria are met, a BUI can be removed. And once all BUIs are removed from an AOC, it can be delisted – the end goal of all AOCs.

In order to develop the Maumee AOC’s BUIs, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) set up a Maumee Remedial Action (RAP) Committee. In 2007, the RAP Committee determined that that their best path forward would be to form a new nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and to leave the umbrella of TMACOG. Thus Partners for Clean Streams was born! (If you’re interested, we’ve told the fuller version of the story of PCS’s founding in a Currents article earlier this year.)

Now as the designated facilitating organization, PCS helps coordinate the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC), which is made up of government officials, businesses, industries, universities, and other interested individuals with a passion for fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water. Part of our job is to report out on restoration project progress and major milestones in our AOC, like BUI removal!

So what does it mean that BUI 1, Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption, was removed for our AOC this year? The Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Ohio EPA made this recommendation because the conditions now meet restoration criteria that include fish and wildlife consumption that’s no more restrictive than elsewhere outside of the Maumee AOC. This means the fish and wildlife meet safe consumption thresholds used by the Ohio Department of Health in the Ohio Sport Fish Consumption Advisory.

From the recommendation summary:

“All fish species in all waters of the Maumee AOC have been identified as safe to consume at a frequency of one meal per month, or less restrictive, thus meeting the BUI Restoration Target for fish.

“Snapping turtle muscle (meat) in the Ottawa River of the Maumee AOC are below the contaminant levels designated as safe to consume at a frequency of one meal per month or less restrictive, thus meeting the BUI Restoration Target for wildlife, even though an advisory remains as a precaution to minimize the possible exposure risk to contaminated fat bodies while cleaning/preparing snapping turtles for consumption.”

BUI 1 is the second beneficial use impairment to be recommended for removal among the initial 10 BUIs identified as impaired in the Maumee AOC. The first was BUI 12, Added Costs to Agriculture or Industry, which was removed in 2015.

A photo of PCS Board President Bob Neubert presenting Jeff MacKenzie with the PCS 2022 Annual Stewardship and Involvement Award.Congratulations to Jeff MacKenzie, environmental science teacher at Whitmer High School, the recipient of our 2022 Annual Environmental Stewardship and Involvement Award! Mr. MacKenzie is a community-minded consummate educator and has been a CYS group leader since 2002. We’re proud to share some highlights from all the great work Mr. MacKenzie has done across our region.

Mr. Jeff MacKenzie has been a teacher with Washington Local schools since 1998. In 2009, he was named the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District Educator of the Year. During his time at Whitmer, Jeff also worked part time for 13 years as a naturalist and interpretive guide at Metroparks Toledo. Currently, Jeff also works part time for the Toledo Zoo, where he has been employed for the past 12 years. At the Zoo he works at overnight programs for scouts and other groups, as well as animal handling demos and behind the scene tours.

Jeff is working with the Toledo Zoo’s Project Prairie to install prairies at Whitmer High School (the first high school to collaborate on this project) as well as ALL of the elementary schools in Washington Local Schools. Jeff will be working this summer to develop high school curriculum not only for his use at Whitmer, but also for other high schools to use as they become a part of Project Prairie in the future.

Jeff has been a Clean Your Streams group leader since 2002, participating in countless CYS Day and CYS 365 clean-ups. He began bringing students to CYS as an FFA advisor while teaching an environmental systems career class, and continued as the advisor to the Whitmer Science and Environmental Club.  Over the years, Jeff’s students consistently place in CYS Youth Challenge Competitions.

It’s a common occurrence to run into Jeff with a group of his students at a broad range of environmental events and programs throughout the community, including tree plantings, Envirothon competitions, keynotes by environmental leaders, and film screenings.

Over the years, Jeff has displayed incredible willingness to support Partners for Clean Streams in whatever way we ask: trying out new equipment or a new app or being available with his students for a National Geographic photographer or documentary videographer, and much more.

It is with great pride that we recognize and congratulate Jeff MacKenzie.

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