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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PCS News

By Kris Patterson, Executive Director

I have personally been removing trash from our small corner of the Lake Erie watershed since college. Seventeen years later I am proud to lead the largest one-day river cleanup in Northwest Ohio, and perhaps even along the Lake Erie Coastline. Unfortunately, the disheartening side to that success is that we're still at it. This is one of those jobs that you hope to, someday, work yourself out of by "solving" the problem. I am happy on the rare occasion when we have groups come back from a cleanup and say they couldn't find much trash. While I know they wanted to make a bigger difference (and we appreciate the effort anyway), I also know it doesn't take much looking around to find that garbage downstream somewhere. So what do we do?

There's no easy answer. But we are trying, on a much bigger scale, to come up with strategies and actions to put into practice across the Great Lakes states.

I was recently invited by NOAA to attend a working group that focused on strategies for tackling marine debris in the Great Lakes. Marine debris is a common issue around the world in salt water environments and there are many educational initiative, policies, and programs along our salt water coasts, but working on those in the Great Lakes poses unique challenges. One of the unique aspects of the Great Lakes is that we drink the water from the lakes, unlike most salt water environments. So the group was keenly aware of how emerging issues, such as micro-plastics, needed to be part of the conversation. As is common in action planning like this, many of our actions were to gather more information to inform the "real" goal - changing behaviors to minimize marine debris from entering the environment in the first place.

 As a fundamental strategy, part of our effort will be in updating or modifying messages, images, and materials that help people understand impacts of debris in our Great Lakes context and sharing those common messages around the Great Lakes with its' citizens. We don't have the same wildlife as saltwater coasts so the existing entanglement pictures showing sea turtles and dolphins just don't resonate with people here. So we need new materials. We talked about illegal dumping versus accidental fly-away trash and the shift to automated pick up (and less large item pick up) but we need more data to see trends or causal relationships. Perhaps packaging from manufacturers and shifts to more biodegradable or minimal packaging should be emphasized. But that's a major undertaking, with many factors involved. Yet industry representatives sat at the table with river stewards and champions and recognized that the concern about marine debris brings together a common resolve to change what we can change.

The working group is an interesting mix of government, university, industry, researchers, practitioners, and recreationists. It will take effort from all these stakeholders and from the everyday citizen too, to reverse course on marine debris. Meanwhile, PCS is working to educate people, and behaviors, through prevention as well. Our regional Storm Drain Marking program informs community members to keep trash, and other chemicals and waste, out of the storm drains because that is a direct path for it to reach a river. And our volunteers pulling trash out of the rivers before (hopefully) it gets to a drinking water intake see first-hand that everything and anything man-made seems to end up in our rivers. We are also working with much larger efforts to track, monitor, and inform strategies and policies for debris, such as through Ocean Conservancy and NOAA's Marine Debris program. In fact, NOAA's Marine Debris program, through the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, is providing a small grant towards supplies for our stream cleanups and developing educational, prevention materials.

So while we don't have all the answers yet, we know that what we can all take is to take small actions now. Take reusable bags to the grocery store; grab that fly-away paper before it ends up in the river; clear the storm drains of gunk as spring melts are upon us; pick up trash as you walk the dog around the block or through a local park; secure your trash in its bins and take it to the curb only shortly before pick up. Oh, and of course, you can always donate to PCS so we can continue the programs we are working on today and every day.


PartnersforCleanStreamsOn October 20th, Partners for Clean Streams was awarded a $2,500 grant from Dominion and Western Reserve Land Conservancy to expand our Fishing Line Recycling Bin program. This was a part of more than $35,000 given to Ohio watershed organizations in support of their local water quality improvement efforts. PCS is one of 16 different groups from all across Ohio who received awards. For more information, please read the press release

Here in Toledo, we love our waterways but sometimes we truly realize how important they are to us. Partners for Clean Streams is working with many other agencies and organizations in the area with far more expertise and experience in regards to Harmful Algal Blooms and their impacts. We look toward those agencies and organizations to take the lead on this complex and important issue. 

And we welcome being part of this important conversation as we, as a community, move forward to discuss how to form long-lasting solutions. PCS has worked tirelessly on educating the community on caring for our water resources so we can all have the quality of water that is essential to the region, where we live and work and play.  We are also working to create habitat that is resilient and helps stops the nutrients from reaching Lake Erie. We all play an important role in ensure high quality of water through our everyday actions. PCS is always looking for more partners to work with in finding solutions and taking actions.


Join us as a partner and DONATE NOW or join one of our volunteer activities to make a difference today. To do your part in protecting our water, check out these simple tips from our Give Water a Hand Campaign for things you can do every day at home or at your business.


For quality information about Harmful Algal Blooms and their far reaching impacts, here are some articles and resources that explain the issue.


As more information becomes available, we will disperse that information. You can see our recent posts and join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter (using @PCSMaumee, #watercrisis, #emptyglasscity, #fullglasscity).

We look forward to more dynamic and action-based work in the future with our partners to promote clean, clear and safe water for years to come.


Camp Miakonda Restoration (Toledo News Now, interview with Boy Scouts and PCS)

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The greater Toledo area is blessed with extraordinary rivers, creeks and lakes. We rely on these waters for recreation, drinking and for so much of what provides the high quality of life that we enjoy. From the tiniest creeks to the wide bends of the Maumee, these waters have shaped the identity, family traditions and landscape of our region. These waters connect us to each other through shared memories and experiences. At some point between skipping rocks and watching clouds along a river bank, the Toledo-area waterways become an unconscious-but integral- part of our lives. Join Partners for Clean Streams in celebrating our creeks, streams and rivers that connect us all. Love your rivers! Get informed. Become a partnerTake action

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2An example of some great community-driven work from 2019 is our Clean Yours Streams event! We are happy to report that the 23rd Annual Clean Your Streams was another wonderfully successful effort to clean local waters. On September 21st, in the span of just a few hours, 932 volunteers removed 18,395 pounds of garbage from 33.3 miles of Toledo-area waterways! Many types of trash were removed. In addition to the ubiquitous array of plastics, volunteers removed 124 tires, two mattresses, a Jeep Power Wheel, and many other oddities. Access the official factsheet here.

After the hard work, volunteers gathered at the Lucas County Fairground for a celebratory picnic. At the picnic, volunteers were able to learn more about the local environment by visiting booths sponsored by the Toledo-Lucas County Rain Garden Initiative, the Toledo Waterways Initiative, Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, and Partners for Clean Streams. Volunteers were also able to participate in door prize and raffle prize drawings; items raffled off included passes to the Toledo Zoo, kayak rental vouchers, sporting and theater event tickets, and many gift cards to local businesses and restaurants.

At the conclusion of the big day, Challenge Award winners were announced. First Place Youth challenge awards went to the Toledo ZOOTeens and the Toledo Early College High School. Bowling Green State University’s Environmental Service Club swept up first place finishes in all three of the Collegiate level challenges. Finally, first place for the River Partner Certification went to First Solar, who had 88 employees and family members show up to Clean Your Streams.

Many thanks to all of our coordinators, volunteers, sponsors, and donors. This is definitely a group effort, and thanks to all of you, our streams are cleaner, clearer, and safer! 


PCS News

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