New program aims to involve everyone with effort to keep Lake Erie clean

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TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - A clean Lake Erie is a huge issue for both our environment and the economy. Of course it's a big health issue as well, since the lake supplies drinking water to millions of Ohioans.

Those are some of the reasons for a new program. It's called Greater Toledo Lake Eire's Clear Choices, Clean Water. It's for people of all ages. It's an interactive, web-based initiative that focuses on everything from native plants and rain gardens to getting kids involved in the effort to keep the lake clean.

The program has been adopted by 24 local governments that are part of TMACOG's Stormwater Coalition. The goal is to make sure it has a lasting impact on the region. Clear Choices, Clean Water is a regional program that helps everyday people be a part of keeping Lake Erie clean.

Kari Gerwin is a water quality planner,"Through our website people can learn about the importance of planting rain gardens cleaning storm drains and cleaning up after your pet. We also focus on the importance of volunteering in your community."

So here's how it works. You log on to the website, and you can pledge to be a part of the effort. There are also five areas of educational focus including lawns and fertilizers, volunteer opportunities and helping kids become environmental superheroes

The national program was introduced to the region by Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson's office. The mayor says if everyone takes small steps,it will make a big difference for our most important natural resource."Water is one of our greatest assets and it's important that each one of us does whatever we can to reduce the nutrients going into the watershed and protect our lake."

And this green effort Is aimed at the resource that brings in a lot of green for the state of Ohio. Tim Brown is the President of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, "About $13 billion annually in impact to Ohio's economy, so it's not only your drinking water but it's a place where people recreate. They go fishing and boating and spend a lot of money in the process. About one third of Ohio's tourism dollars come from Lake Erie so we all have an obligation to be stewards of our lake and the Lake Erie watershed."

The website is still in the testing mode, so comments and suggestions are welcome.