Currents | February 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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February 2022

Amy Boros and Randy Nissen are the newest members of PCS' Board of DirectorsWhy is PCS so salty about salt? Every winter, rain and snow wash road salt into our ditches, streams, and rivers, which degrades water habitats by adding excess chlorides. Too much salt can be toxic for invertebrates and fish.  Experts agree that cutting down pollution at its sources will have a positive impact. This year, the University of Toledo, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG), and Partners for Clean Streams are starting a project to do exactly that.

Did you know – a 2005 study showed that in urban streams, our water can be up to 25% saltier than sea water, just due to road salt use. Another study found that high concentrations of chlorides led to smaller populations of freshwater invertebrates, plus a reduction to their reproduction rate. The lead author behind that second study is Dr. William Hintz, an assistant professor in the University of Toledo’s environmental science department.

Dr. Hintz was recently quoted in the New York Times, saying, “There’s plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that freshwater ecosystems are being contaminated by salt from the use of things like road salt beyond the concentration which is safe for freshwater organisms and for human consumption.” So what can be done to solve this problem? 

In 2021, the Ohio EPA awarded a GLRI grant to the University of Toledo, TMACOG, and Partners for Clean Streams, to work together to better understand current conditions of urban streams here and make recommendations on how to reduce road salt pollution. The project is titled “Reducing the impacts of chloride on aquatic species in the Maumee Area of Concern,” and the first of its three phases starts this winter.

Phase one focuses on developing a chloride remediation plan, and all three partners have important parts. In broad terms, UT will focus on the chloride sampling and science side of things, TMACOG will identify specific equipment upgrades to reduce salt pollution, and PCS will help coordinate project implementation plans with other organizations and government agencies.

PCS is proud to be a partner in this important project to keep our waters clean, clear, and safe. You’re sure to hear updates from us and other collaborating organizations as our salty work gets underway.

Road salt outside of the PCS offices.The Walleye Run will be here before you know it! PCS is seeking new and returning sponsors for fishing line recycling bins. Whether or not you’re an angler yourself, your financial support for this program will prevent marine debris from entering the Maumee River, improving our watershed for all.

 Early every spring, thousands of anglers flock to Northwest Ohio for the fun and camaraderie of walleye fishing. We’re excited to prepare ahead of fishing season and make sure our fishing line recycling bins are in top shape. To that end, we need your help.

Why does recycling fishing line matter? Discarded fishing line has become a serious issue in waterways around Northwest Ohio. Thin, hard-to-see plastic line poses a risk for animal entanglement. It gets caught on roots and riverbanks, and colorful lures are sometimes mistaken as food by birds and reptiles. Tangled fishing line and materials also damages aesthetics, recreation opportunities, and community pride in our waterways. To combat this, PCS coordinates the installation of fishing line recycling bins to safely collect, track and recycle discarded fishing line. The bins encourage anglers to dispose of their fishing line easily and properly. Volunteers will collect and track the amount of line recycled in each bin regularly through our “Adopt-a-Bin” program.

To support this program, every year PCS requests sponsorships at different levels, either for individuals or organizations.  Each sponsorship lasts a year, although the bins might be taken down during the “off season.” For a sponsorship, your name (and logo, if applicable) will be placed on educational signage next to the bin. You’ll also be listed on our website! Your donation allows us build and maintain these bins across Northwest Ohio. You can sponsor a bin by filling out the form on our website and emailing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can make a gift via PayPal (preferred) or check mailed to our P.O. Box.

Books and documentaries to keep your passion for our waterways warm.Too cold to venture outside, but want to keep connected to your rivers and lakes? We’ve prepared some recommendations for books, documentary films, and activities for kids to keep your passion for our waterways warm this winter!

Even in our off-hours, PCS staff members Kris and Liv love learning about our waterways. Below are some resources and media we’ve enjoyed in the past, and are glad to pass on to you.

Books For Adults

In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River by Ryan Schnurr (2017). Fort Wayne native Ryan Schnurr traces the history, ecology, and culture of the Maumee River as he makes a trip from his hometown to the river’s mouth in Toledo, Ohio.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan (2017). This science-driven odyssey across the Great Lakes has been called “sharply written” and “compulsively readable” by the New York Times. Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan crafts a cautiously hopeful narrative, pairing complex environmental problems with concrete solutions, both at an individual level as well as policy level.

Books for Kids

The Day the Great Lakes Drained Away by Charles Ferguson Barker. A humorous and fascinating picture book about what the Great Lakes would look like without water. What’s down there? What would happen with no water? Alongside adorable illustrations, this book contains NOAA maps that show the underwater features of the lakes. Reading age: elementary school.

Shipwrecks, Monsters, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes by Ed Butts. As many of us know, the Great Lakes are home to unpredictable storms, uncharted rocks, and treacherous shorelines. This book is a collection of legends and true stories across three hundred years of exciting Great Lakes history. Reading age: older elementary school to middle school.


The Worth of Water: A Great Lakes Story (2020) – In August 2017, Alyssa Armbruster and Julia Robson set off on a trek from Milwaukee to Lake Superior to raise awareness for the Great Lakes. In spite of their majesty, the Great Lakes are a fragile ecosystem facing serious threats. Learn from these amazing women about their inspiring journey and how you can help steward the largest bodies of freshwater on the planet.

The Plastic Problem (2019) – Plastic pollution is now considered one of the largest environmental threats facing humans and animals globally. In this PBS News Hour special, Amna Nawaz and her colleagues look at this ubiquitous material and how it’s impacting the world, why it’s become so prevalent, what’s being done to mitigate its use, and what potential alternatives or solutions are out there. This program travels from Boston to Seattle, Costa Rica to Easter Island to bring the global scale of the problem to light.

Activities for Kids

Be an Ocean Guardian: Activity Book – Free-to-download printable PDF aimed at children in kindergarten through third grade. Contains crossword puzzles, a marine sanctuary map, and coloring and drawing activities. 

Understanding Marine Debris: Games and Activities – Free-to-download printable PDF aimed at older elementary school children. Full of puzzles, brain-teasers, and coloring activities to help children understand the problem of marine debris, while having fun at the same time.

In summer 2021, a MAAC team harvests willows for a habitat remediation project.Partners for Clean Streams was founded in 2007. But last year was the 25th anniversary of Clean Your Streams Day. How does that math work out? The answer lies in the origin story for PCS, with the group now called the Maumee Area of Concern Advisory Committee (MAAC). Now’s your chance to go behind-the-scenes and learn how this group launched PCS and where we’ve grown from there to today.

Gather around for a short history lesson, with lots of acronyms but also a deep water partnership story.

In the 1970s, the United States and Canada were growing concerned with protecting the Great Lakes. These critical waterways provide drinking water for millions of people, avenues for billions of dollars of trade, plus countless opportunities for recreation. In 1972, the U.S. and Canada made their commitment official to restore and protect the Great Lakes, by jointly signing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This Agreement was far-sighted. It focused not just on the lakes themselves, but on rivers and other tributaries that made up Great Lakes watersheds.

Over the years, the Agreement was amended but with the same intentions. In 1987, an amendment established the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC), 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 and our grades weren’t so great. Some example BUIs include “Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption,” “Beach Closings” or “Degradation of Aesthetics.”

In order to address and remove these BUIs, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) set up a Maumee Remedial Action (RAP) Committee. This Committee was made up of government officials, businesses, industries, universities, and other interested individuals with a passion for fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water. The first Clean Your Streams Day was held in 1997, organized by RAP Committee members to work on BUI 11: “Degradation of Aesthetics!”

From 2003 – 2006, the RAP Committee undertook an ambitious effort to create the regional Watershed Restoration Plan, combining requirements from international, federal, and state watershed guidelines. To provide a dynamic, readily accessible, and current plan, partners on the RAP Committee later developed an online Data Management and Delisting System (DMDS), which is still used and updated today. The DMDS provides relevant data specific to the BUIs, the status of the BUIs throughout the AOC, updates to projects in the AOC, and other resources.

But still – where does PCS come in? After much discussion, the Maumee RAP Committee determined in early 2007 that their best path forward for efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability would be to form a new non-profit 501(c)3 organization and to leave the umbrella of TMACOG. In March 2007, Partners for Clean Streams was officially created.

The Maumee RAP Committee is now a stand-alone committee, reformed and renamed the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC). PCS helps facilitate meetings and encourage a pipeline of targeted projects. There are still many different partners participating. Despite all the name changes, the RAP and MAAC have continued to work with the community to support funding and needs for major investigations and prioritize habitat restoration work to help make progress on improving the habitat and nearby waters in the AOC. Meanwhile, PCS continues to engage the community on education, engaging with new partners, leading restoration projects, and of course, stream cleanups. We’ve continued to grow and expand Clean Your Streams Day, even though its older than we are!

History lesson over! Don’t worry, there won’t be a pop quiz.

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