Currents | October 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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October 2022

2022 October Header 1For twenty-six years, we’ve been amazed by our volunteers’ determined water stewardship during Clean Your Streams Day. 2022 was no exception! Partners for Clean Streams is proud to present the results of their efforts in sites cleaned, pounds of marine debris removed, and river miles covered. We’re also announcing the winners of the Clean Your Streams Challenge Competitions and River Partner Certification recipients.


Remote Kickoff

After the success of our clean-on-your-own Remote Kickoff in 2020 and 2021, we knew we wanted to bring back this participation option in 2022. Volunteers chose a time and location during the week leading up to Clean Your Streams Day, submitted liability forms, then shared data and pictures following their clean-ups. The Remote Kickoff allow us to expand the geographic impact of our program. This year, we had groups clean up sites in Port Clinton, Bowling Green, Roche de Boeuf, and even in Hudson, Ohio near Cuyahoga Valley National Park! We also had two groups clean-up via watercraft: Toledo Environmental Services (Maumee River near Imagination Station) and Heritage Environmental Services (Maumee River and Grassy Creek.)

Remote Kickoff Results

  • Volunteers: 111
  • Sites cleaned: 21
  • Pounds of marine debris removed: 2,089.6
  • River miles covered: 13.80

In-Person Kickoffs

On September 24, 2022, in-person volunteers arrived at one of eight kickoff locations around Northwest Ohio. From there, groups were assigned a waterway site where they spent the morning removing marine debris and tabulating data on the items they removed. Afterword, many volunteers attended our Clean Your Streams Volunteer Appreciation Picnic and enjoyed free food, education stations, door and raffle prizes, and more.

In-Person Kickoff Results

  • Volunteers: 541
  • Sites cleaned: 41
  • Pounds of marine debris removed: 11,504.9
  • River miles: 15.44

Total Impact

  • Volunteers: 652
  • Sites cleaned: 62
  • Pounds of marine debris removed: 13,594.5
  • River miles: 29.24

Clean Your Streams (CYS) is the largest single-day watershed clean-up in Northwest Ohio, as well as the largest clean-up in Ohio that contributes marine debris data to the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) database. Volunteers have an impact on watersheds around our region, including the Maumee River, Ottawa River, Swan Creek, and Maumee Bay tributaries. Thank you to all 652 volunteers that helped remove nearly seven tons of misplaced trash in and around our local rivers.

To date, more than 382,000 pounds of marine debris have been removed from area waterways by over 15,500 volunteers. Among many strange finds this year, volunteers discovered a crashed drone, a rubber ducky with a rainbow unicorn mane, a fire extinguisher, plastic succulent plants, a pregnancy test, three e-bikes, and ninety-four tires! Like last year, the #1 most commonly found item was food wrappers, with over 8000 removed.

To see who won our friendly-yet-competitive Clean Your Streams Challenges, click here. These groups went above and beyond in their efforts!

A volunteer removing marine debris with a grabber.Are you feeling inspired by the awesome impact made during Clean Your Streams Day? You can plan your own waterway clean-up at a time and location of your choosing through our Clean Your Streams 365 program. We’ve got tips to help you get started and to make your clean-up a success.

Clean Your Streams 365 is a year-round effort for clearer, cleaner waterways. Volunteers choose their own time and location to remove marine debris. These clean-ups can be PCS staff or board member-led, or you can choose to clean-on-your-own. In either case, we will provide all clean-up supplies, including gloves, trash bags, grabbers, and data cards to record the marine debris you remove. Once you complete the online registration form, our staff will connect with you to begin making arrangements.

Any public waterway spot where you notice trash is a good candidate for a clean-up, but feel free to ask us if you’d like some site recommendations in your area. We maintain a site master list and may have some insider information on which sites have been tackled recently or could use some extra attention.

Be mindful of waterway conditions as you plan your clean-up. Autumn leaves can bury trash, but once the leaves fall, you may have access to areas that are too brushy to clean in warmer months. Although colder weather reduces your chance of insect encounters, remember that poison ivy is still active at this time of year. The safety tips covered during our Clean Your Streams Site Captain Training will be a helpful starting point if you’ve never planned your own waterway clean-up before.

Tracking the items you remove during your clean-up allows your impact to go beyond one-time trash removal. Our volunteers record clean-up data to compare marine debris from site-to-site and year-to-year, and to share our results with other organizations, government agencies, and companies. We request you record data for your clean-up. You have the option to either use a printed data card and email a copy to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or use the Clean Swell app. Clean Swell lets you track the marine debris on your smart phone with a simple tap of a tile. The app records the amount of trash you have removed, estimates pounds of trash, and tracks your total distance cleaned. We put together a detailed guide for using Clean Swell that also addresses some frequently asked questions – find it here.

A storm drain with the stenciled message, "Drains are for rain. Flows to waterway." marked beside it.It’s the time of year we love to watch the leaves change color, and the time of year we work hard to keep fallen leaves from clogging our storm drains. This month, we’re taking a look at storm drains as critical features of our local water system, the way leaves and other debris play a role in water pollution, and how we can do our part to steward storm drains.

At the simplest level, leaf litter in storm drains blocks the flow of water. This means enough leaf litter can cause roads to flood. Leaves can also cause blockages inside a drain and harm our local pipes. However, there’s more to the story.

Unlike the drains inside our homes that flow to a sewer treatment plant, the storm drains in our neighborhoods lead straight into our waterways without any treatment. This means anything but pure rainwater is a potential contaminant negatively impacting our area’s water quality. Stormwater runoff can carry excess fertilizer, sediment, trash, and E. coli from pet poo, and all those things can hitch a ride on fallen leaves.

What are the consequences to some of these? Excess fertilizer from yard waste can cause nutrient pollution and oxygen depletion in our streams and rivers. Excess sediment can build up in waterways, causing our rivers to appear brown and making the river bottom too muddy for fish to lay their eggs. Meanwhile, E. coli can make water unsafe for swimming.

Fortunately, there are simple steps anyone can do to help! You can take a pledge to adopt a storm drain this autumn, keeping it clear of autumn leaves, trash, and other debris. Toledo Lake Erie Clear Choices Clean Water has great tips for how to take care of your local storm drains.

Storm drain marking is an easy process to notify our neighbors that what goes into the storm drains comes out in our waterways untreated. So far in 2022, 39 PCS volunteers have marked 424 storm drains and distributed over 800 educational door tags, and we have more storm drain marking planned for this autumn.

Once winter hits, our storm drain marking program will go into hibernation until spring, when the weather permits us to be able to either stencil a painted message or glue a medallion to our storm drains. If you’re interested in trying storm drain marking, you can let us know by filling out our form.

A volunteer team from CEC after cleaning up a site at the CYS 26 Secor Kickoff.It takes a village to pull off a program like Clean Your Streams Day. We want to highlight some of the sponsors who make our programs possible, and keep you in the loop on ways that you can contribute to our mission all year round.

First of all, we’d like to acknowledge our new grant funder for 2022. Earlier this year, we announced that the Board of Trustees of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation approved a grant from the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation Donor Advised Fund to Partners for Clean Streams for $17,535 to support marine debris removal efforts. This grant supported Clean Your Streams 365 programs earlier this year, and was also a key source of funding for Clean Your Streams Day.

Clean Your Streams benefited from two returning Community Partner-level sponsors this year: BP and O-I Charities foundation. We are also grateful for nine CYS Underwriter sponsors: the University of Toledo, First Solar, Lucas County Storm Water Utility, City of Toledo Environmental Services, City of Oregon, Kwest Group, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, NSG Glass North America, and OmniSource. We are so grateful for these businesses, organizations, and municipalities’ continued commitment to our waterways. For a full list of our sponsors, click here.

We are also supported by many generous individuals who see the difference that our programs made. You can make a one-time gift to Partners for Clean Streams easily online, or become a sustaining donor through our membership program. You can link your Kroger Plus Card with the instructions on our website, and connect your Amazon account to support us by searching “Partners for Clean Streams” on AmazonSmile.

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