Currents | September 2023

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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September 2023

2023 September Header 2Challenges have been an exciting part of our waterway clean-up for decades. Whether you’re bringing a youth group, collegiate group, a business or nonprofit, or some friends and family we’ve got a challenge for you. When you register for Clean Your Streams, you’ll get more information, but read on for a sneak peek about our CYS Challenges.

Photo Challenges
These challenges are open to individuals or groups. Submit a photo either via social media or email in the following categories -
• Best Before-And-After: Show us you’re proud of the difference you made by taking a beautiful before-and-after photo.
• Strangest Find: Think you’ve found something during CYS that nobody else has found? Snap a picture to prove it!
Find us on Twitter and Instagram @PCSMaumee, and on Facebook by searching Partners for Clean Streams. Use #CleanYourStreams419. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your submissions. PCS staff will select the winners.

See last year’s photo challenge winners.

Recognition for Businesses, Nonprofits, and Other Organizations
When you check-in at your kickoff, let your Kickoff Coordinator know your group name and how many members are participating. You can also sign in at the Challenge table at the picnic. Your group will be recognized with a River Partner Certification after CYS Day, as well as featured on the PCS webpage and other materials. Groups are recognized in the following categories:
• Watershed Warrior: 50+ volunteers
• River Guardian: 30-49 volunteers
• Stream Protector: 10-29 volunteers
• Creek Crusader: 1-9 volunteers

Youth Challenges

Youth Challenges are open to all groups where the majority of participants are under 18. Youth Challenges are a good fit if you’re bringing a scout troop, an after-school club, youth sports team, or religious youth group.

To participate in Youth Challenges, make sure a group picks up a challenge entry from your Kickoff Coordinator on the morning of Clean Your Streams Day or at the picnic. Submit your results at the volunteer appreciation picnic, and we’ll tally and announce winners at the picnic itself.
• Most Volunteers: Awarded to the groups with the most CYS participants.
• Battle of the Bags: Awarded to the groups who fill the greatest number of trash bags.
• Awesome Effort: Awarded to the groups with the largest average number of bags per person.

Collegiate Challenges
Collegiate challenges are a good fit if you’re part of a service organization, Greek life, school club, or just a group of friends wanting to do some good.

To participate in Collegiate Challenges, make sure when you fill out your data card(s) during Clean Your Streams Day, you put the name of your group clearly on the card. We will use the data you submit to determine challenge winners, and we’ll contact winners after CYS Day, plus acknowledge you on social media. Two challenges (Best Before-And-After and Strangest Find) should be submitted as photos via tagging us on social media or by email.

• Most Volunteers: Awarded to the groups with the most CYS participants.
• Battle of the Bags: Awarded to the groups who fill the greatest number of trash bags.
• Awesome Effort: Awarded to the groups that find the most food wrappers, which have surpassed cigarette butts as the #1 removed trash on CYS Day.
• Best Before-and-After Collegiate: Awarded to the biggest before-and-after impact captured via photo.
• Strangest Find Collegiate: Awarded to the most unusual items removed and documented via photo.

StewardshipThinking of using Clean Swell to record data for the CYS Remote Kickoff? This handy app got some updates in 2023, so we’ve updated our How-To Guide so you can feel confident collecting data on your own or with a group.

Partners for Clean Streams is proud to share the Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell app. Clean Swell is a phone app version of a data card. It 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 trash weight, tracks your total distance cleaned, and lets you earn badges as you collect.

1. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store and create a profile.

2. Once you’re on-site at your clean-up location, open the app and select “start new clean-up.” If you’re participating in Clean Your Streams’ remote kickoff, please name your group “CYS 27 – [Your Group Name].” If you’re cleaning up at any other time of the year, we encourage you to name your group “CYS 365 – [Your Group Name]” so that we know you are one of our groups!

3. When you start your clean-up, you’ll see the app’s trash is organized into item categories. When you open the categories, you’ll see tappable tiles. As you pick up pieces of trash, tap the corresponding type. Another option that works well for cleaning solo is to walk through an area tapping tiles for all the trash you can spot, then pick up the trash after your walkthrough.

4. Once you’ve finished your clean-up and you’re still on-site, select “Finish this cleanup” at the bottom of the screen, then after confirming your data is correct, tap the button at the bottom to submit your data.

The basics are as simple as that! Of course, you may still have some questions. What happens if you find something very heavy that doesn’t fit neatly into a category? How do you remove something you’ve accidentally added? Fear not – our full Clean Swell guide is available here.

StewardshipMost trash in our Great Lakes doesn’t get tossed out of a boat. Marine debris starts on land, and via wind, storm drains, and connected waterways, can travel far. Learn more about what we find on CYS Day and how it gets there.

Where does marine debris start?

Litter from garbage and recycling bins can overflow or simply spill on collection day, especially if trash is unbagged, if bags are not tied up, or if bins are uncovered.
Litter discarded from pedestrians can accumulate near fast food or convenience stores, near public transit stops, and at outdoor events.
Trash from cars and trucks can blow from garbage trucks and uncovered truck beds, as well as intentional littering at freeway on/off ramps.
Illegal dumping purposely, either on land or into waterways, still sadly occurs.

How does trash travel?
Storm drains and the stormwater system are most people’s closest connection to their local creeks and rivers. Trash can get washed into storm drains by rain or blown by wind.
Trash can also be blown or flow directly into a ditch or creek.
Connected, smaller waterways carry trash to larger rivers, then ultimately into Lake Erie.

What do we find on Clean Your Streams Day?
Unsurprisingly, we find lots of light items that are easily carried by the elements! Over the past few years, we increasingly find single-use plastic items, most often food and beverage packaging. Check out the infographic below for a detailed breakdown of last year’s 26th Annual Clean Your Streams finds.

CYS 26 Infographic Revised

With seven public kickoffs, more than fifty sites to tackle, and hundreds of volunteers to coordinate, our Clean Your Streams planning team works hard to put together an impactful program. Get to know this year’s team.

Our planning team kickoff leaders:

  • Oregon Kickoff: Andrea Beard (19th year involved with CYS)
    • Storm water engineer with the City of Oregon.
    • The City of Oregon has been a CYS kickoff location for 19 years, since 2004, although Oregon watersheds have had a kickoff since 2001.
    • Why does Andrea support Clean Your Streams? “I personally enjoy spending time walking the creeks in preparation for the event.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction reading through data cards knowing that we have done a small part of eliminating trash from the streams.”
  • Side Cut Kickoff: Bob Neubert (20th year involved with CYS)
    • Surveyor and floodplain coordinator with Lucas County Engineer’s office.
    • Although the Lucas County Storm Water Utility hasn’t been around as long as Bob has been involved with CYS, we’re very proud that the Lucas County Storm Water Utility has been a consistent CYS major sponsor for many years.
    • Why does Bob support Clean Your Streams? “To provide stewardship opportunities, especially to Scouts since I’m a volunteer Scouts BSA leader.”
    • Bob’s interesting find: A fifty-inch flat screen TV, which a Boy Scout group pulled out of Swan Creek.
  • University of Toledo Kickoff: Tim Niederkorn (7th year involved with CYS)
    • Environmental engineer with the University of Toledo.
    • UT has been a CYS kickoff for 17 years, since 2006, and has been a consistent CYS major sponsor for many years, beginning 2 years after the UT kickoff started.
  • Perrysburg Kickoff: Lauren Rush (6th year involved with CYS)
    • Stormwater coordinator with the City of Perrysburg.
    • The City of Perrysburg has had a CYS kickoff location for 8 years, since 2015.
  • International Park Kickoff: Ariya Fathi (5th year involved with CYS)
    • Engineer with Verdantas, LLC. (formerly Hull and Associates).
    • Verdantas has been a consistent CYS sponsor both under their former and current business name.
  • Monroe St. Kickoff: Marilyn DuFour (26th year involved with CYS)
    • Senior Environmental Specialist with the City of Toledo.
    • The City of Toledo has been a CYS partner since the very beginning – 27 years since 1997! Marilyn herself has only missed one year of Clean Your Streams.
    • Why does Marilyn support Clean Your Streams? She likes the opportunity to get more young people engaged with Ottawa Park and the Ottawa River.
  • Secor Kickoff: Rick Bryan (5th year involved with CYS)
    • Active environmental volunteer throughout Northwest Ohio, currently involved with the Oak Openings Region Conservancy. He first became involved with CYS as a board member of Lucas SWCD, serving on the TMACOG Environmental Council.
    • Rick initially co-coordinated the Olander Park Kickoff before relocating to Secor in 2020.
    • Rick’s interesting find: a piano illegally dumped at Kitty Todd Preserve.
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