Fun Events & Information

October 19th, 2012

Happy Harvest Season!

UPCOMING Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Save Maumee FUN STUFF!
Before Winter weather sets-in and we update the whole website (not so fun)!

  • TODAY ~ SATURDAY OCTOBER 20, 2012 our 4th Annual Seed Harvest at Little River Wetlands Project from 1pm-4pm    Rain or Shine Exact Location & Details HERE – Apologies for not sending earlier…we are STILL 100% volunteers and doin’ the work!
  • Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Save Maumee ECOWALK – Tuesday November 6th at 4pm.  So go out and vote…then come to 1901 Niagara Dr. Fort Wayne, IN – to finish planting some of our hundreds of native plant plug and tree donations!  See our past pictures from EcoWalks
  • 1st Monday of EVERY month at Hall’s Gas House from 7-8:30 Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Save Maumee Meetings – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – November 5th is the next meeting, 305 E. Superior St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.
  • Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor invites you to “The Future of History, Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Community in the Maumee Valley” Saturday November 12, 2012 from 9:30am-2pm in Woodburn. The keynote speaker will be Canadian Consul General, Roy Norton.  Abigail King will be presenting “How’s the Water? Common environmental issues along the entire Maumee River,”  along with many other presenters and lunch. To register contact Angie Quinn 260.450.2057 or email maumeevalleyheritagecorridor@hotmail.com

PAST EVENTS:  Too many to list here, but wanted to show you some pics and highlights of a few of our past accomplishments in 2012!

  • 2012 Canoe Clean Up – 60 volunteers cleaned-up a dumpster full of garbage from the St. Mary’s River while we listened to local musicians play! ….see the day here:
  • Our River Rummage Sale in July was a success!  Everyone involved said it was too much work, so hope you enjoyed it this one time! Special thank you for all rummage donations from people.  Save Maumee donated ALL the unsold merchandise to: The Rescue Mission, Charis House, St. Vincent DePaul, 2 womens shelters, and several homeless individuals we met during the day.   Pictures of the day here:
  • Celia Garza and Abigail King represented NE Indiana at the 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference
  • Save Maumee’s displayed an experiment to demonstrate how erosion is harmful to the waterways at the New Haven Farmers Market

GOOD NEWS:

  • Save Maumee’s northern bank near N. Anthony Blvd. is now “Wildlife Habitat Certified.”  This is the area where we implement our erosion control projects! The signs will show site location and should be here in about 6 weeks!
  • Save Maumee has partnered with North Manchester University to mentor one of their graduating students. Morgan Hill will be graduating next year with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, and a Minor in Business.  WELCOME TO OUR RIVER FAMILY MORGAN HILL!
  • Hailey Gardener was our Summer 2012 intern from IPFW. She is now an active volunteer and member of Save Maumee! She continues to work with us, so no need to say goodbye to our fabulous worker…THANK YOU HAILEY!
  • Abigail King, director of the Save Maumee Lake Erie Waterkeeper program, was interviewed in the documentary “ROMANCING THE RIVER: A MAUMEE LOVE STORY” that premiered on WGTE’S “TOLEDO STORIES,” OCTOBER 18, 2012 AT 8:00 P.M  We are requesting this documentary to be played in Fort Wayne on our local pubic station, WFWA-DT PBS39.
  • Two reports are being released in December 2012 about the Maumee.
    1. Water Quality Data of the Upper Maumee Watershed and its tributaries will be released thanks to the 319 grant received by the Upper Maumee Watershed Partnership.
    2. The Nature Conservancy’s “Blueprint of Lake Erie” report.

Other Things Goin’ On:

  • The Hoosier Environmental Council’s 5th Annual Greening the Statehouse Forum, Saturday, December 1 from 8:30 to 3:30 at the University of Indianapolis.  This year’s event will be on HEC partnering with organizations across the state to discuss strategy and tactics that will improve the environment and the health of Hoosiers for the upcoming 2013 legislative session starting in January. Panel discussions and speakers will analyze the summer’s drought and its effect on recreation, agriculture, quality of life, water resources, economic development and climate change. Together we’ll educate and rally attendees on policies to advance public transit, green energy, sustainable agriculture, and protection of our rivers and lakes.
    Registration fee of $20/general admission or $10/student includes entry to the forum, keynote speaker, panel discussions, and lunch.  Register before Oct 31 for a $5 off Early Bird discount per ticket! TO REGISTER CLICK HERE: 
  • Public Notices for NE Indiana.  We watch the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permits (NPDES) as they are issued and reissued.  NPDES are straight pipe discharge permits of chemicals into water  by industry.

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GET READY 2013! Save Maumee will be hosting its 1st Annual Membership drive in late Winter! New supporters and long time contributors alike will come together to become members for the first time with Save Maumee! Together, through broad base support we will be stronger than ever!

HERE ARE WAYS TO HELP US TODAY:

Save Maumee receives $25 for every FREE energy assessment completed by Energizing  Indiana. You can SIGN UP HERE and send it back via email or snail mail. Energizing Indiana will schedule a convenient time to come to your home and provide you with valuable information on where you are losing the most energy and money. As an added perk you have these gifts to look forward to:

1. FREE – 9 CFL light-bulbs, 3 sink aerators,  and 2 low flow shower heads (they do not affect your water pressure) – to conserve energy and water.
2. Homes located in pre-designated areas, may receive up to $10,000 worth of energy efficiency installations to their homes (i.e. insulation for attic/walls, windows, thermal blanket for water heater etc).
3. Upon completion of your home assessment, Save Maumee receives $25/home within 60 days!

Energizing Indiana program is funded through our utility rates. The program’s goal is to reduce Indiana electricity use 2% by 2019. We support Energy Efficiency as means of helping to reduce Indiana’s 96% reliance on coal-fired power, which is incredibly harmful to our waterways.

You can still sign up even if you live in/rent a duplex or mobile-home.

It is an extremely easy way to help our efforts! You get free stuff and save money on your electricity bills!  WIN WIN!

CLICK HERE: https://energizingindiana.com/savemaumee/ to sign up!.

Sincere appreciation for your support,

Abigail King
Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Save Maumee Program Director

305 E. Superior St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
260.417.2500
Abby@SaveMaumee.Org

Find Us:
Lake Erie Waterkeeper Website
Save Maumee Website
Save Maumee Blog

Facebook
Twitter

VOTE NO on H.B. 2018

September 23rd, 2012
  • HR 2018, entitled, “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011,” as passed by the House and is now being heard by the Senate.  This bill is a direct assault on two key components of the Clean Water Act: enforcement of water quality standards and protection of aquatic resources from discharges of dredged and fill material.
  • Title V (H.R. 2018) would reverse decades of progress in cleaning our nation’s waters. It undermines the cooperative state-federal partnership at the core of the Clean Water Act. Under this title, the U.S. EPA would be stripped of its important authority to ensure that water quality standards are enforced and reflect the latest science. Sadly, this super polluter bill is one in a long line of bills introduced this year whose goals are to give polluters free reign to poison our air and water. The 112th Congress has cast a record-setting 302 anti-environment votes, making it the worst in history on the environment.
  • Congress is starting to hear the bills. Please pay attention.

Clean Water Action Letter to Senators with over 300 organizations against this bill

THIS SATURDAY…come ON

July 13th, 2012

little waterkeeper logo
Hello River Lovers,
~ONLY THIS SATURDAY~

River Rummage Sale ~ THIS Saturday July 14 – First Day of the 3 Rivers Festival Parade – on the Historic Wells Street Bridge – Behind Wells St. and Superior St. in downtown Fort Wayne…just off the parade route.  BIG, LARGE, HUGE SALE! 8am-5pm  – Proceeds go to Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Save Maumee Program for true river improvements.

SaveMaumeeLogo 2


Come buy our stuff! Come on, you’ll already be downtown for the parade and 3 Rivers Festival

  • 5 semi-trucks full of STUFF you can re-purpose with your purchase!  THANK YOU for your kind and generous donations!
  • Bring your dead batteries and we will dispose of them properly ~ DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY ~ FREE DISPOSAL
  • Waterbarrel demonstration = FREE LEARNING
  • Repurposed art = FREE THINKING
  • Chaff plantings = FREE STUFF
  • Food Not Bombs feeding us from NOON-2pm = FREE FOOD
  • Meet our hard-working unpaid river volunteers = FREE HELP

river rummage

Other Upcoming Events:

** 1st Monday of every month – Public meetings for river action and are looking for your inputon ways to truly improve waterways tangibly 7-8:30pm at Halls Gas House on E. Superior St. – Next meeting is August 6th

**1st & 3rd Tuesdays – EcoWalk Work Group – corner of Niagara Dr. & N. Anthony Blvd. 4-5pm

**September 8, 3rd Annual Save Maumee Benefit Show...local, live and FUN entertainment at VIP Lounge on HWY 24 (still working on details)

**September 15, 6th Annual Canoe Clean-Up, Can YOU Clean-Up  – Fort Wayne Outfitters/Bike Depot on Cass St. 11am-3pm

**October 20  5th Annual Seed Harvest at Little River Wetlands Project 1pm-4pm

**8th Annual Earth Day Celebration and Cleanup 2013 – THE BIG ONE!  May be a few changes this year…stay tuned



So, if you are wondering what Save Maumee has been doing since Earth Day…it is amazing! YOU should be involved!

In 2012 ALONE with ONLY unpaid volunteers we have:

  • Planted 200lbs of native riparian seed on local riverbanks
  • Planted 100 native trees at Earth Day while removing 4,000lbs of trash from Fort Wayne’s Rivers
  • 8th Annual Earth Day event attracted almost 400 volunteers
  • Learned and taught about living-on-the-land & homesteading
  • Removed invasives such as garlic mustard and teasel from nearby river areas
  • April 2012 Edition – Fort Wayne Monthly Magazine
    Save Maumee’s Abigail King is featured in “20 Questions”
  • Save Maumee made it into the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame”!  We were in the credits for Dean Jay’s Documentary!
    Nova Rex – It Ain’t Easy Being Cheezy
  • Represented northeast Indiana in Washington D.C. for Clean Water Week’s, Great Lakes Days from 2008 to 2012
    CLICK HERE for our 2012 Newsletter – D.C. Edition
    CLICK HERE to read who we met with, and what we said:
  • Sat at many river meetings, to represent the health of our waterways and the citizens that depend on clean water
  • Polar Bear Jumping at Johnny Appleseed Park on New Year’s Day
  • Attended the largest ever National River Rally in Portland, Oregon and met with Robert Kennedy Jr.
  • Spoke at local colleges & for the Girl Scouts
  • Held an aquaponics workshop to teach how to set-up a fish and food growing operation in your backyard, with aquaponics expert Ernest Rando
  • Raised awareness about our waterways SUCCESSFULLY!


Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc., a chapter of the international organization Waterkeeper Alliance, Executive Board voted to make Save Maumee responsible for the Maumee River! We joined forces with Lake Erie Waterkeeper to further our work and our message!  Thank you Heartland Communities as we leave your gracious fiscal sponsorship and align with Waterkeeper Alliance – WE LOVE YOU!

All our money comes from our fundraisers and kind individual donors…so give till it hurts…OUCH…or bring your $ to the River Rummage Sale!

Other things you should know:

  1. Overall, contaminants in Indiana waterways include pesticides, priority organics, copper, lead, ammonia, cyanide, low dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and chlorides, habitat alterations, oil and grease.  30,321,380 lbs of toxic chemicals are released per year into our waterways.
  2. Indiana – 29 percent of all beach water samples had bacteria levels higher than public health standards allow, according to the NRDC’s 22nd annual “Testing the Waters” study.  Beaches were closed 379 times in Indiana in 2011 due to public health standards for safety.
  3. Indiana State issues call to reduce use of water in drought
  4. Cleaning up rivers is the right thing to do, and “initiatives to decrease sewage flowing into rivers would never have happened but for government intervention.”
  5. In 2008, Indiana was the seventh-largest source of mercury pollution in the country, according to the EPA’s most recent figures.
  6. Which fish have the highest Mercury content?

 

Save Maumee Earth Day 2012 ~ 7th Annual Celebration

March 20th, 2012

INVITATION

Sunday April 22, 2012

Plant Plugs and volunteers from Earth Day 2011

11am-4pm

Come to our Open-Non-House!

Plant trees, seed, plant plugs, install erosion control mats and remove garbage on the banks of the Maumee when you have an hour or five to spare, rally for clean water, support your local waterways…and have fun doing it with live entertainment!

Cleansing the riverbanks of garbage 11am – 4pm  – You won’t be able to miss it meet us at the big tent!

LOCATION:

    On the corner of N. Anthony Blvd. and Niagara Dr.

    We will meet here:


  • View Larger MapPEOPLE WITH TRUCKS BE HERE AT NOON! – We will be sending you to remote sites for clean-up of other river areas! WHAT TIME exactly are things happening?  Well, the day rolls out like a rushing river so here is a general guide to events….
  • 11am – I.C. Coldwater will present on water quality locally
  • 11am – 3:30pm – Silent Auction (see items for bid below)
  • 11am-4pm     Education & Displays all day  (see time sheet at INFO table when you arrive)
  • NOON – Bring your trucks meet at the dumpster for remote site clean-up
    In 2012 we plan to remove trash from streams and waterways from Eagle Marsh to I 469 in New Haven – WOW!
  • 12-3 Grateful Groove – Grateful Dead Cover Band
  • 1:30pm – Edible Herb Education – Jain Young – Herb Specialist
  • 2:30 – Children’s Story Time
  • 3pm – Birds of Prey Demonstration – Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehab
  • 3:45  Silent Auction WINNERS ANNOUNCED (must be present to win)
  • 4pm – Save Maumee STOMP- Help us to secure new seeds planted on the banks of the Maumee to insure they root into the streambank~ NO STOMPING ON NEW LIFE GROWING!

Unspecified time events:
Delivery of 25 pizza’s from Sports & Spirits
Natural Scavenger Hunt
Face Painting
Face Sketching from local artist Jerrod Tobias
Rainbarrel Demo from WeCycle
Enviroscape ~ to explain on a little scale, how water drains in our watershed on a larger scale!
How to make a “natural” water filtration device for emergency water use demonstration
Free schwag (cool stuff to give away) – many sponsors for this!

What are we installing to help the natural environment filter runoff?
1 acre worth of seed
200lbs of chaff
Hundreds of trees (don’t plant near power poles or 15 ft. from the sidewalks)
Hundreds of plant plugs (pre-grown plants)
4,500 sq. ft. of erosion control mats

Silent Auction List  ~ to keep our “free” events free…bring your checkbook….we’re having a silent auction!

  • 3 Organic Grown Bartlett Pear Trees
  • Downtown Grind gift basket
  • Foellinger Theater – 2 tickets to choice of Cherish the Ladies, The Guess Who, or Starship
  • Fort Wayne Children Zoo – family fun packs – two of them
  • Fort Wayne Outfitters/Bike Depot – 1/2 day rental for two on kayak or canoe rental
  • Hall’s Restaurant – $50 worth of gift certificates
  • Kreepydoll – made from salvaged material
  • Neuhouser Nursery gift basket
  • Organic knitted item
  • Paula’s Seafood – $50 gift certificate
  • Painting from local artisan Jerrod Tobias
  • Pampered Pets gift basket
  • Two competitors working toward cleaner water and YOUR health.  It shows the importance of our work when competitors work together for clean water…everyone wins!
    1) “Prana Yoga” –  2 hour Thai Massage and Yoga 101 Classes
    2) “True Potential” – Yoga Fit Classes & Henna Tattoo
  • Random Act of Gardening – Will provide you a 10X20 garden, services include: tilling, plants, seeds – (The 3 sisters beans, squash, corn) broccoli, peppers and two other food choices for your new garden…request what you prefer! Approximate value $200 – approximate hours of service to complete your garden is 5 hours.

More Silent Auction items coming as we send you this email so this is NOT a comprehensive list – THANK YOU to all sponsors!
LET THE BIDDING BEGIN!

OTHER UPCOMING SAVE MAUMEE, LAKE ERIE WATERKEEPER EVENTS 2012

  • THIS WEDNESDAY – April 18th – from 4pm-10pm Eat at Texas Roadhouse on Lima Rd. and help our rivers!
    Save Maumee receives 10% of all food sales IF you show them this email!  Meet us there!
  • May 2nd (Wednesday) at 7-9pm Ernest Rando coming to teach us about aquaponics at Fort Wayne downtown Library ROOM C – he will have working aquaponics demo there and include a list of all plants, fish and veggies we can grow with aquaponics.  Will answer questions and present from basic gardening skills to technical questions! Coming from Gary, IN for his presentation…so we are requesting $15 at door to cover costs.
  • May 5th & 6th – Sol Fest, Abby received a full scholarship to the National River Rally in Portland, Oregon and if we are to participate at Sol Fest we need volunteers so CALL ABBY if you can help to run the enviroscape….just ask and we’ll help you prepare! 260.417.2500
  • Saturday ~ September 15th ~ 5th Annual Canoe Clean-Up, Can YOU Clean-Up @ Fort Wayne Outfitter / Bike Depot
  • Saturday  ~ October 20th ~ 4th Annual Save Maumee Seed Harvest @ Little River Wetlands Project /Eagle Marsh
    (NOT Fox Island County Park in 2012) we are giving that prairie a rest from harvesting.—-MEETINGS NEED ATTENDANCE SO WE KNOW YOUR OPINIONS TO IMPROVE OUR RIVERS —-

    Save Maumee, Lake Erie Waterkeeper wants you to attend our monthly action meetings

    FIRST MONDAY OF EVERY MONTH
    Permanent meeting place & mailing address
    Don Hall’s Old Gas House
    305 E. Superior St. Fort Wayne, IN 46802  (cross street is Spy Run)
    7PM-8:30 sharp
    Free coffee and tea will be served – tip not included
    CLICK FOR DIRECTIONS

  • Monday May 7th, 2012
    will be our 2nd meeting ever, but we are moving quickly to create the board and move projects forward
  • Monday June 4th
  • Monday July 2nd
  • Monday Aug. 6th
  • Monday Sept. 3rd
    you get the idea

Information you should know:

  1. “Indiana Tops Nation in Water Pollution”
  2. or “AK Steel nation’s premiere toxic water polluter”  Indiana leads the nation in the release of toxic chemicals into water
  3. Corporate farms can sue you for taking pictures or complaining about them
  4. FDA prohibits certain antibiotics for cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys to preserve the effectiveness of treating humans….
  5. Antibiotics and other drugs have been found in drinking water.
  6. Tell Congress: Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right!
  7. “America’s Waterways received 226 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals
  8. Save Maumee “Earth Day draws attention to clean water initative”
  9. PLEASE COMPOST IT – and use as fertilizer so we don’t have more blue-green algae in the Great Lakes!

Save Maumee ~ Voted “2011 Organization of the Year (video)” by Hoosier Environmental Council – article about it here:

Thank you for your continued support for the ENTIRE Lake Erie Basin,
See you this week!

HOW TO PLANT SEEDS:

1. Find a bare area where grass needs to grow…don’t walk on the other new life!
2. Stir up some dirt with your shoe or stick
3. Sprinkle sees in the raked up dirt
4. Cover the newly planted seeds with the other dirt you stirred up
5. Step-on the freshly planted seeds to hold them in the Earth!
6. On your way back from your walk, pick up all the garbage with the bag!
7. If you find something hazardous and feel uncomfortable touching it…Save
Maumee Representatives will be there to assist in removal!

* Single-pot meth labs look like a plastic bottle with a hose coming out of it. 
DO NOT TOUCH IT
– THESE CAN EXPLODE! WE DO NOT WANT YOU HURT!

* By the way – PLEASE take heed that the Maumee River is on the 303 (d) list for impaired waters….this means it contains enough e. coli to make you very ill.  If you need a story to bring this point home, PLEASE READ THIS

Don’t just dream about clean rivers…Come out & help rain or shine….if not you….WHO?

In your yard Cottonwoods and Mulberry may be unwanted, but these “trash” trees are beneficial to riverbanks.

We choose this area because it is where the trash has the first chance to collect downstream of all the armoring (removal of trees/grasses and replacing with rock and pavement) upstream.  This is the first area the trash has a chance to collect on the streambanks.

What we did in 2011 CLICK HERE for longer VIDEO

2011 FUNNY VIDEO

What we did in 2010 CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO- Part 1 of 6!

What we did in 2009 CLICK HERE!

Over the years musical talent has included:
Dave P., Grateful Groove, Will Brown from the Afrodiasiacs, Beyond all Rational Thought, Carol Dean and Les Lesser, The Wilderness, Anthony Garr, Sounds of Saturn

Cleaning up your dog’s poop on a walk will also improve water quality, so don’t forget your plastic baggie when you grab Rover’s leash! – Dogs are not prohibited, but not encouraged at the event…

NEED DONATED FOR EARTH DAY  ~

  • ALWAYS looking for donations of NATIVE seeds, NATIVE trees, NATIVE pre-grown plants, NATIVE bushes, soil sand, and straw bales
  • Face Paint
  • Prizes for hard working participants (a.k.a. schwag)
  • Food donations – single serving – Board of Health Certified
  • Waterproof rubber Boots & “waders”
  • Trash grabbers (garbage picker-uppers)
  • minnow nets
  • whistles for around the neck in case of emergencies
  • Flat “John Boat”and/or outboard motor (can provide a tax deductible receipt)
  • Someone who will commit to letting us use their copy machines, lamination machines, printers to make copies of related Save Maumee material that will be distributed to the public.
  • Earth Friendly garbage bags this year?
  • Suggestions for the event include recycling facility – a possibility, but most of the rubbish is river dirt, muddy – unsure to date
  • REUSABLE water bottles – prefer stainless steel or plastic that is NOT  Bisphenol A (BPA)  – we want BPA-free plastic
  • More Mats + More Seed = More $.  Bring your wallet, but this is a FREE event!
  • All money from the previous year goes to erosion control mats and purchase of more seed/trees/plugs for next year

Brian Foster Taking in the Maumee River Trash!

Updates from 2011 Earth Day -LAST YEAR

NO CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: 100% donations from our local citizens go only and directly to best management practices for naturalization of riparian areas – this is what grassroots organizing is all about! ALL VOLUNTEERS~ All money came from: Grateful Music Productions/Save Maumee Rock Out-Camp Out, Berlin Music Pub’s PUNK PARTY, Save Maumee Earth Day 2010, Save Maumee Canoe Clean-Up 2010, Save Maumee Presents: Sounds of Saturn & Les Nester at Dash-In, Sports & Spirits Bar & Grill. Namaste to many small monetary donors! Save Maumee did not raise as much money as last year but we are very proud to supply you with these effective erosion control techniques for OUR riverbanks!

Save Maumee Grassroots Organization attempted to make national T.V. ~ (yea we wish) we want the media to help us draw attention to our efforts and many issues that face our waterways because we want CLEAN WATER. If you do not want to be video recorded, be aware of the cameras and keep working out of sight & sign the waiver. ~ EVERYONE WELCOME!

Disclaimer: Save Maumee does not carry power as to the fate of our rivers. YOU DO! People need to feel more connected to each other, to nature, and to the things that are most valuable. We feel a personal connection to our waterways and love our rivers and we want you to as well. Civic duty and helping your fellow man should be words that fall from your mouth continuously. We want this event to leave you hopeful and empowered. Please realize that we all want the same thing – CLEAN WATER. Water is a right not a luxury and keeping pollution out of our rivers is our priority. We do not talk politics, but you are making a political statement by being here.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, dedicated citizens can change the world… indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Special THANK YOU from Save Maumee to ALL the people who helped bring all of us together this year! Our events are FREE but ALL donations go to projects like this one! Give till it hurts – OUCH!
See our thank you list!

 

Please sign Petition to Protect Our Drinking Water

March 20th, 2012
Signed into law by President Nixon, the Clean Water Act is needed for Lake Erie and the nation’s waters – the Maumee River is the largest and longest stream that contributes to the Great Lakes, and empties into Lake Erie.  Please sign this Waterkeeper Alliance circulated petition and forward to friends and family.

PLEASE SIGN PETITION NOW! YOUR WATER NEEDS OUR HELP! – CLICK HERE TO SIGN

Why This Is Important

The Clean Water Act – one of our nation’s key pieces of environmental legislation – allows millions of American’s to reclaim our nation’s waterways and make them safe for swimming, drinking, and fishing. Sadly, the Clean Water Act is currently under attack.

A growing chorus of big polluters and their cronies in Congress is working to convince the public that the Clean Water Act is a “job killer” – equating environmental protection with economic disaster. The U.S. House of Representatives has spent this year – ironically, the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act – relentlessly trying to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and our environmental laws. They are taking direct aim at the Clean Water Act and seeking to strip the federal government’s authority to regulate water quality standards. They even want to weaken the EPA’s power to enforce the law and protect OUR communities!
Pesticide application next to water!

One particularly egregious example exempts from the Clean Water Act pesticide applications in and around public waters. Pesticides are designed to be toxic to living things. They contaminate drinking water and are especially harmful to fish and amphibian life – so we know it cannot be healthy for humans!

This bill has passed the House and is now pending in the US Senate.

Polluters have money and that buys political influence, but there’s power in numbers. Together, we can fight back.

On this World Water Day, join Waterkeeper Alliance in protecting the Clean Water Act for the health of our communities and the environment.

WE WANT CLEAN WATER

CLEAN WATER CREATES JOBS!

Approximately $334.8 billion dollars are needed to fund the projects necessary to continue to
provide safe drinking water to the public. “The nation’s water systems having entered a ‘rehabilitation and replacement era’ in which much of water utilities’ existing infrastructure have reached or are approaching the end of useful life (US EPA Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs
Survey and Assessment, 4th Report to Congress, Feb. 2009, pg. 3).

Investing this amount now would inject a quarter of a trillion dollars into the economy, create nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs, and result in 568,000 additional jobs from increased spending. Investing in stormwater management programs would also clean up the nation’s waters. Every year, 860 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage spills into our waterways. Cities discharge about 40 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into the Great Lakes annually (“Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs and Greening the Environment,” – American Rivers, Green For All and the Economic Policy Institute 2011).

The Brookings Institution reported that Great Lakes restoration creates jobs in the short-term while laying the foundation for long-term prosperity—providing $2 in economic benefit for every $1 investment in restoration. Economists at Grand Valley State University in Michigan concluded that a $10 million investment to restore Muskegon Lake in Michigan is generating more than $66 million return on investment through higher property values, increased tourism, and an expanded tax base. More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages annually, according to an analysis by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan.

The looming sequestration of funds (as outlined in last year’s debt deal) starting in January 2013 will also result in an indiscriminate 8 percent across-the-board cut to all federal agencies, including EPA and the GLRI, unless a more sustainable debt agreement can be reached this year.

It’s imperative that public officials understand that cuts to restoration programs will not save the
government money. Cutting restoration programs will cost more, because projects will only get more difficult and expensive the longer we wait. Want to create 1.9 million American jobs and add $265 billion to the economy? INVEST in our water infrastructure. (Healing Our Water 2011)

PLEASE SIGN PETITION NOW! YOUR WATER NEEDS OUR HELP! – CLICK HERE TO SIGN

Save Maumee goes to Washington D.C. represented northeast Indiana for Clean Water Week

March 9th, 2012

 Peter Visclosky & Clean Water Advocates in front of the Capitol Building!

If you would like to see what we said in Washington D.C. last week – CLICK HERE for Save Maumee 2012 Newsletter:

Save Maumee Grassroots Organization represented northeast Indiana for Great Lakes Days again this year in Washington D.C. for Clean Water Week, through a grant from Healing Our Waters.  Save Maumee volunteers have represented northeast Indiana in D.C. every year since 2008!  This year was special though because we had Save Maumee volunteers, Celia Garza, Bruce Allen, Ryan Bailey and Abigail King all in attendance!

Today, streams and lakes suffer from a legacy of toxic pollution, the spread of invasive species, and loss of habitat.  These factors, among others; threaten jobs, public health and way of life for people who depend on clean water!  Clean water, in fact, has ranked as the number one environmental concern for the last 10 years!

125 people were included in the creation of this document if you would like to know more!
“Great Lakes Regional Collaboration”

On February 28th & 29th Save Maumee volunteers Bruce Allen, Celia Garza, Ryan Bailey and Abigail King spoke to the following federal legislative offices.

U.S. Federal Senators:
Dan Coats met with Celia Garza
Richard Lugar met with Abigail King

U.S. Senator Dick Lugar’s Meeting

U.S. House of Representatives:
Marlin Stutzman met with Abigail King, Bruce Allen and Ryan Bailey
Joseph Donnelly met with Ryan Bailey
Mike Pence met with Bruce Allen
Peter Visclosky met with Abigail King, Celia Garza and Bruce Allen

Abigail King, Bruce Allen & Ryan Bailey from Save Maumee - outside U.S. House of Representative Stutzman

Save Maumee representatives were only one group representing 8 States and 2 Provinces of Canada.  These groups speak for over 30 million people who depend on The Great Lakes and their tributaries for drinking water.   Representation of groups that lobbied on Capitol Hill included: Alliance for the Great Lakes, Save the Dunes, Great Lakes Commission, Fresh Water Future, National Wildlife Federation, American Rivers, Waterkeeper Alliance, Restore the Earth, Cardno JFNew, Hoosier Environmental Council, and Natural Resource Conservation Services, Northwest Indiana Forum, League of Women Voters and National Parks Conservation Association, just to name a few.

Priority issues for the groups were:
1. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – protecting $300 million from a 20% budget cut – President Obama has requested $300 million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in 2013. Fully implementing the GLRI is a strategy projected to generate at least $50 billion in long-term economic benefits.  Over 22 million Americans live in the Great Lakes basin and an estimated 1.5 million jobs generating $62 billion in annual wages are directly related to the lakes.  Nearly 700 projects are producing measurable results for our waterways!  Clean rivers and lakes are good for the economy!

The Great Lakes maintains a $7 billion dollar industry for fishing, so it remains very important to maintain the language of the Clean Water Act.  We requested that legislators not support weakening of the language of the Clean Water Act, and asked that they also not support any weakening of the EPA’s ability to use their power of enforcement and oversight.

2.    Asian Carp – Support full implementation of Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework; accelerate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s study to protect against inter-basin transfer of invasive species.  If you would like to see our local available entry area for Asian Carp, read the letter here: from Betsy Yankoiak, Little River Wetlands Project’s Executive Director

3.    Incorporate strong Great Lakes conservation provisions and funding in the 2012 Farm Bill.  Conservation of land will help to protect waterways by reducing soil erosion and nutrient runoff.  We need strong provisions and funding for conservation and restoration efforts that address soil and water conservation.
Congress must maintain funding levels for these programs at $6.2 billion – a new Great Waters Regional Conservation Partnership Program in the next farm bill.

4. Invest in infrastructure, separate sewers while repairing and upgrading aging infrastructure. Make efforts to begin separating storm water from sewer drainage. Reauthorize and provide funding for the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.

Jay Jensen, Federal Land and Water Manager and speaking for EPA Director Linda Jackson, discussed the White House’s “Restoration Action Plan,” and “Restoration Initiative.” The challenge lies in communication; White House cares about the environment, but is also deeply focused on deficit reduction and job creation.

Abigail King & U.S. House of Representatives, Peter Viscloski

Great Lakes Restoration at work in Indiana:

Many groups are collaborating with the federal government to implement a comprehensive restoration strategy for the Great Lakes.  This partnership is generating on-the-ground actions that will improve Indiana’s economy, environment and the quality of life.

Great Lakes Commission Fact Sheet on Indiana: A vital Economic Asset for Indiana

or

you can find the 2012 Commission Meetings and other fact sheets 

Stewards of the Three Rivers of Fort Wayne

March 2nd, 2012

Abstract

Stewards of the Three Rivers of Fort Wayne:
By Rhonda Ladig Moxter

The Interaction of Government, Quasigovernment, and Nonprofit Organizations

In the pageant The Glorious Gateway of the West (Rice, 1916) celebrating the centennial of the state of Indiana, the prologue of the first scene discusses the magic that the three rivers of present day Fort Wayne meant to the native people.  In the prologue the pageant opens with a native musing, “Sacred this place.  For untold ages, long lost in the nameless years, my people came with ancient rites where these three rivers run under the shining sky” (p. 19).   Since the time before Fort Wayne was a city, with native peoples and settlers, the three rivers have been fought over as a source of food, water, transportation, business, and agriculture.  The battle over these rivers continues today, and the topics have changed surprisingly little.  But, though the circumstances have changed and the fight is just as passionate. 

Many groups and organizations have an interest in the health and well-being of Fort Wayne’s three famous waterways.  Local government plays a huge role in the decisions over how the waters of our river can be used by businesses and individuals, deciding what can and cannot be done to these waters.  Quasigovernment groups help support and facilitate the missions and directives of various groups of the government to promote, protect, and educate on various aspects of the waters and rivers of Fort Wayne and the surrounding area.  Finally, nonprofit and grassroots organizations, some 50 years old and some created in the last several years, charge themselves with shielding the lands and bodies of water that effect Fort Wayne’s three rivers.  Being stewards of these three rivers is no straightforward, easy feat.  It involves the consideration of factors that far outreach those of the rivers themselves.  And, each of these umbrellas, the government, quasigovernment groups, and nonprofit and grassroots organizations work with one another, whether they meant to or want to, to fulfill their interrelated missions.

City Government

The City of Fort Wayne has a problematic sewer system because of the combined sewer system and its subsequent overflow problem.  A combined sewer system has two pipes that direct general rain water to the river and household sewage to the water treatment plant.  However, after a heavy rain, the system gets overloaded and sewage is dumped into the river, thus creating a combined sewer overflow, abbreviated CSO (CSO, 2011).  Fort Wayne has this type of system and suffers from this situation though it is not unique to Fort Wayne, with as many as 770 other cities in the United States suffering from the same situation (Brugger 2011, slide 4).  In compliance with the Clean Water Act , municipalities address these overflows into local waters (Brugger, 2011).  The Clean Water Act was created in 1972, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not begin enforcement of the combined sewer system provisions until 1994 (Brugger, 2011).  To meet these standards, which the city was in violation of, the EPA developed and sent a plan stating what the City of Fort Wayne needed to do to become compliant (Brugger, 2011).

In response to this plan, which was vast and very expensive, in 2001 the city developed a preliminary action plan for the EPA laying out how Fort Wayne could become more compliant with the provision (Brugger 2011, slide 4).  The first step was to begin analyzing the costs and benefits of reducing the overflow number from the current average of 71 overflows per year down to a more manageable number (Brugger, 2011).  According to the city’s Senior Project Manager, Justin Brugger (2011), in an ideal situation it would be possible to stop all overflows; however there are far too many factors to consider that complicate this situation and make negotiating with the EPA for a reduction of overflows the most effective solution.  After careful study, it was determined that decreasing the number of overflows per year to 4 had the greatest cost-benefit to the city, thus reducing the overflow volume from an average of 1 billion gallons of sewage dumped into Fort Wayne’s waterways, to 100 million (Brugger, 2011).  The cost of the entire CSO plan that the city purposed to the EPA, which includes additional storage, upgrades, and improvements, in 2005 dollars, was $239 million (Brugger, 2011, slide 10).

After determining the best approach for the city and going into negotiations with the EPA, a consent decree was signed with the City of Fort Wayne in December 2007 (Brugger, 2011).  The consent decree, essentially, is a voluntary agreement between the EPA and the city that allows for a solution to the situation without legal action (Brugger, 2011).  The decree satisfies many of the EPA’s demands, but protects the city from spending money on projects to fix the combined sewer overflow and then being told that they had not done enough, thus having to spend more money (Brugger, 2011).  Politically at this time, Fort Wayne had a lame duck mayor, with elections approaching the following year (Brugger, 2011).  The EPA knew that it would be harder for a new mayor to get the backing to spend the money needed on the CSO problem, so they were more agreeable to the final plan than they may have been had the city not been in this political situation (Brugger, 2011).  Additionally helpful in obtaining the agreement with the EPA was that, at the time of the consent decree, the city had already completed several projects to fix the CSO, for example creating storm sewers, completing water treatment and sewer plant improvements, and establishing a public notification system for when overflows occurred (Brugger, 2011). 

The overall cost of this project equals 383% over an 18 period (Brugger, 2011, slide 14).  How will the city balance the protection of the rivers, while still protecting citizens and businesses from taking on the whole of the costs?  One idea from Justin Brugger (2011) would be to raise property tax to offset the costs, but with Indiana’s property taxes being capped by the state at 1%, this option will not work.  Another option would be to pursue grant money from outside sources to help counterbalance costs, but grants are not an attractive option for local government projects because they are often complicated and more work than they are worth to get and maintain (Beier, 2011).  Another idea proposed by Brugger (2011) would be to raise the sales tax by 1/2 percent.  This idea is appealing because it would allow those who are using the city’s utilities to pay for them (Brugger, 2011).  In theory, if someone from an outlying community comes to the city to shop or eat at a restaurant they will using the city’s utilities during that time and, thus, they money they were spending in the city would be paying for them in an additional percentage of tax on their purchase.  The problem with this solution is that it will likely be unpopular to raise this tax from 7% to 7.5% and it would not be completely fair to have the tax rate in the city pay for the CSO fix, when communities outside of the city also use the utility, for example Leo-Cedarville and Huntertown (Brugger, 2011).  So, a final option, and the one the city will likely pursue, is to raise the cost of utilities (Brugger, 2011).  According to Brugger this would make the average utility bill for a Fort Wayne resident around $100 per month by the year 2023 (Brugger, 2011).

Could this have an effect on urban sprawl, causing city residents to move out of the city to avoid the high cost of utilities (Brugger, 2011, slides 22-3)?  If that were to happen, what would the impact be on property values in the city’s neighborhoods?  And, if property values are affected, what would then be the impact on the school system, which is funded by property tax (Brugger, 2011, slides 24)?  Also, could the residents of the city, who are dealing with a severe level of underemployment, afford such an increase (Brugger, 2011, slides 25-6)?   All of these factors must be carefully considered and balanced against the mandate to reduce these sewage overflows into Fort Wayne’s rivers.  Other groups have feelings on what happens to our rivers as well.

Quasi-governmental Organizations

            Merriam-Webster (2011) dictionary defines the term quasi-governmental as “supported by the government, but managed privately.”  Quasi-governmental groups are a complicated web of groups that are interconnected with local, state, and federal groups to uphold and fulfill their missions.  One of these groups working to improve the region’s water quality is the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality (ACPWQ).  To understand how complicated these quasi-governmental groups can be, see the explanation of the layout of this organization from its Water Resource Education Specialist, Matt Jones (2011):

The ACPWQ is a county organization.  I work under the supervision of the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).  Most SWCDs in the state are involved in some way with the NPDES program.  That being said, they have a professional organization at the state and national levels … these organizations have little to do with my day-to-day activities and only offer professional training opportunities and information to SWCDs.

 The SWCD and ACPWQ are housed … in a federally administered building that houses the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency branches (NRCS and FS, accordingly) of the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture].

The ACPWQ works in this complicated mix of governing bodies through the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program (Jones, 2011). 

These NPDES permits, issued by the EPA’s Office of Water Management, help to regulate the sources of surface water pollution such as pipes or ditches that run into rivers (OWM, 2011).  In this region, permit holders include Allen County, Leo/Cedarville, Huntertown, the City of Fort Wayne, the City of New Haven, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, St. Francis University, Ivy Tech Community College, and Indian Tech (Jones, 2011).  The monies from the permits are used to fund the ACPWQ through its partner groups including the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health, the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative, and the Maumee River Basin Commission (Jones, 2011).   These funding partners communicate regularly with the ACPWQ to fulfill the role of educating local groups, from students to lawn care professionals, on water quality issues that they may effect, or that may affect them (Jones, 2011).

            Another regular audience of the outreach and education programs provided by the ACPWQ are local farmers.  The requirements under the Clean Water Act that regulate urban and suburban areas do not extend to farms (Jones, 2011).  Because of this, the ACPWQ uses its resources to reach out and educate farmers on best practices for water quality (Jones, 2011).  The farmers have the choice of whether or not to comply, and because the majority of Allen County is farmland, it is in the best interest of the region’s water quality for as much dialogue and education to happen between the ACPWQ and local farmers (Jones, 2011).

            Though the ACPWQ does not work directly with the nonprofit groups, Jones (2011) states that because of its broad scope, his organization frequently has knowledge of the many existing nonprofit and grassroots groups in the region and can often be a resource to encourage collaboration or connect several groups when their missions or events overlap.

Nonprofit and Grassroots Organizations

            Many nonprofit and grassroots organizations play a role in Fort Wayne’s three rivers.  The group Save Maumee Grassroots Organization (or, Save Maumee, for short) was formally established in 2005, but the focus on the Maumee River all began in 2001 when Abby Frost King (then, Abby Frost) moved to her home near the river.  In an interview with Frost King in 2011 she states that she had dreams that her children would play on the banks of the river, swimming and fishing in the waters.  When friends and neighbors heard of this, they were appalled and explained to Abby that the reason why was the poor state of the Maumee (Frost King, 2011).  When Abby discovered the state of the river and its surrounding ecology, she began crusading to clean up the river and prevent future damage, as well (Frost King, 2011).  According to the group’s most recent available newsletter, 80% of a stream’s water quality is inherited at its headwater and the Maumee is fed by the St. Mary’s and St. Joseph rivers, therefore the group is also has some interest in the city’s other two rivers (“Understanding”, 2011). 

            The foci are multi-faceted for the group.  Save Maumee focuses on the health of the rivers in direct effect of the economy, aesthetic, recreation, and health of the Great Lake Basin (“Understanding”, 2011).  The group relies on volunteers to remove garbage that makes its way in the rivers through direction pollution and also from trash flowing into storm drains that flow into the rivers during a rain (“Understanding”, 2011).  (According to Justin Brugger (2011), this will be the biggest impact the citizens will see once the combined sewer overflow issue is resolved; there will be much less trash flowing into the rivers.)  Volunteers for the Save Maumee also cultivate seed and then plant them along the river to aid in erosion control of river banks (“Understanding”, 2011).  They also plant trees, wild flowers, and other plants annually to increase diversity and help reverse pollution (“Understanding”, 2011).   

            Besides the physical work of saving the rivers, much of what Frost King and Save Maumee do is simply trying to get enforcement on laws and regulations that are already in existence.  For example, one focus of Save Maumee is greater enforcement and oversight of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and combined sewer overflow controls already in place by the EPA (“Understanding”, 2011).  Save Maumee also pushes the Clean Water Act’s mandate that surface water meet defined standards (“Understanding”, 2011).  As per the act, the standard was to have been met by 1983, though in 2011 the city’s rivers are far from meeting this standard, evidenced by being on the EPA’s 303(d) list in 2011 (“Understanding”, 2011).  Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states are required to list impaired waters (“Impaired”, 2011).  Additionally under this section, states must rank the severity of the impairment of the bodies of water by clearly stating their total maximum daily load, which is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that the body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards (“Impaired”, 2011).

            A specific area that Save Maumee is looking for enforcement of existing provisions is in the Maplecrest Extension Rd. project.  The road extension is being built over the Maumee River.  According to Frost King (2010), the construction company that is completing the project had not used erosion control techniques, which are required with construction permits on a floodplain, and had subsequently filled in the entire river bed.  Frost King then filed a complaint with the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, a quasi-governmental group dedicated to the “wise use of our soil, water and related natural resources” (ACSWCD, 2011).  This group had no power to stop construction, but just did cite the violations and communicate them to the County Council (Frost King, 2011).  Frost King then contacted the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and had to wait several weeks for the department to show up for an inspection (Frost King, 2010).  Per Frost King (2011), the issue was never resolved during construction of the road though all avenues for enforcement were tread.

            Besides fighting to enforcing oversight and getting their hands dirty, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization also pushes for policy changes.  One such push is to rezone Indiana’s wetlands as protected areas, because of their benefits to the waters and watershed of Northeast Indiana (“Understanding”, 2011).  Currently, in the region, wetlands are zoned as “other” instead of as a protected body of land (“Understanding”, 2011).  Save Maumee is not alone in this particular fight.

Another Northeast Indiana nonprofit group working to protect wetlands is the Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP).  This group is also a relatively young nonprofit, beginning in 1990, with a mission “to restore and protect wetlands in the Little River watershed and to provide educational opportunities that encourage individuals to be good stewards of wetlands and other natural ecosystems” (Nolan, 2011).  Wetlands are vital to a healthy ecosystem in Northeast Indiana because they have an important impact on improving water quality, storing floodwaters, and holding surface water during periods of drought (“Functions”, 2001).  These vital lands in Northeast Indiana have diminished by 85% and the LRWP works to restore and protect the wetlands as well as educate about the importance of their mission and works (Nolan, 2011).  In this effort, LRWP has teamed up with ACRES Land Trust, another local nonprofit group that has been working in the area since 1960 to preserve land in its natural state in the face of growing urban areas and land development (ACRES, 2011).  With many nonprofits spending much time and energy on securing reliable funding, LRWP and ACRES have helped bridge that gap by teaming up to accomplish both of their respective missions in LRWP’s first shared-purchase property between the two groups (Nolan, 2011).

Conclusion

            What can we conclude from the above narrative of the groups that work for water quality in Northeast Indiana?  We see that these different types of groups, governmental, quasi-governmental, and nonprofit, have varying directives and missions and challenges, but their efforts often cross-over with the same goal in mind:  improving the quality of the water of the three rivers.

            For the city government, the challenge is balance.  They must consider all stakeholders and factors in every decision made to clean and protect the waters.  The federal government has mandates that the city must meet, and they are often expensive.  Finding the perfect balance of doing what is best for the rivers, local businesses, city finances, school systems, wildlife, and family budgets is a multi-faceted and demanding tight wire to walk.  For nonprofit and grassroots organizations, they’re missions and directives are often narrow and specific, but is a part of a vast, complex system with innumerable factors.  This is its own challenge as the successes are measured in small victories, but the aspects involved to get those victories are often large and convoluted.  For the quasi-governmental organizations, they often work in a scope of no actual regulatory power, with many “bosses” to answer to in the sense of the groups providing the funding that have their own individual needs they expect to be accomplished through the organization. 

            In many parts of the United States (and, truly, the world) discussions of water have to do with control, but in Northeast Indiana the question is not one of quantity but of quality: there is plenty of water, but that also means there is plenty to abuse.  The many groups and organization dedicated to minimizing and reversing that abuse face some common challenges.  First and foremost is a lack of cohesive enforcement of existing laws and regulations that were established to prevent abuse.   Next, as is the case in many situations that involve social issues, there are often “turf wars” as the multiple groups fight for the limited resources available as they look to fulfill their related but divergent missions.  Another common challenge is the idea of group think, in that a group moves in a self-defined direction and eventually becomes disconnected with the reality of the situation, people, events, and concepts with which they are working.  But perhaps one of the largest challenges on this issue is that of focused, forward thinking leadership.  Until all parties that make the rivers their missions can come together and discuss all of these challenges and opportunities, they will likely continue to push against one another and spin their wheels.  In his book The Power of Collaborative Solutions, Tom Wolff (2010) tells a story of a social worker that received a request for the mother of a child with whom the social worker dealt.  When the social worker arrived at the family’s home at the scheduled time, she found a room full of others waiting.  The mother came in and told the group, “You are all social workers working with our family.  I am going to leave the room.  It would be really helpful for our family if you would talk to each other” (p.1).  A room filled with the rivers’ “social workers” addressing the issues, needs, and future would be a natural first step to the long, but worthy discussion involving all of the people that are passionate about Fort Wayne’s waterways.  There will always be groups that want different things for our rivers, but with a common energy, the biggest impact can be made. 

And a big impact is what Fort Wayne’s rivers, in all their history and glory, deserve.  At the conclusion of The Glorious Gateway of the West (Rice, 1916), one of the settlers states, “Bless these people of Fort Wayne in all their comings and goings. … Bless this new State of Indiana and give it prosperity and true happiness.  Bless this meeting place of the three rivers and prosper it and all who shall come to it to make them a home, now and forever.  Amen” (p. 59).


References

ACRES purpose and history. (n.d.). ACRES Land Trust. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www.acreslandtrust.org/628207

Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www.allenswcd.org/

Beier, B. J. (2011, February 23). Lecture presented at SPEA V504 – Public organizations in Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne.

Brugger, J. (2011, March). Sewers and public policy. Lecture presented at SPEA V264 – Urban structures and policy in Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne.

Brugger, J. (2011, November 22). [Personal interview].

Frost King, A. (2011, October 4). [Personal interview].

Frost King, A. (2010, October 14). Being cordial to an urgent issue – Maplecrest Extension brige [Web log post]. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://blog.savemaumee.org/2010/10/14/being-cordial-to-an-urgent-issue-maplecrest-extension-bridge/

Jones, M. (2011, November 17). [Personal interview].

Jones, M. (2011, November 28). Water rights questions. [Email to the author].

Quasi-governmental. (2011). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved November 28, 2011 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quasi-governmental

Nolan, S. (2011, November 8). Phone/email interview [E-mail to the author].

Rice, W., & Goodman, K. S. (1916). Scene I, prologue. In The glorious gateway of the west: An historic pageant of the story of Fort Wayne, commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Indiana’s admission to the sisterhood of states (ps. 19, 59). Fort Wayne, IN: Centennial Association.

Understanding the depth of Northeast Indiana water related issues. (2011, February). Save Maumee Grassroots Organization.

United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Waters. (n.d.). Impaired waters and total maximum daily loads. Retrieved November 23, 2011, from http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/tmdl/

United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Waters. (2001). Functions and values of wetlands (EPA 843-F-01-002c). Retrieved November 25, 2011, from http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/outreach/upload/fun_val.pdf

United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Waters Management. (n.d.). Retrieved November 24, 2011, from <http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/index.cfm>.

United States of America, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Waters Management. (n.d.). Combined sewers overflow. Retrieved November 23, 2011, from http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=5

Wolff, T. (2010). Why Collaborative Solutions? How our Helping Systems are Failing Us. In The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Written By Rhonda Ladig Moxter
Contact Rhonda by email     rrlpdmt@hotmail.com

Combined Sewer Overflows – college term paper

February 11th, 2012

Combined Sewer Overflows

 

Written by Sean Musi

V161

  

I have spent half of my life in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the number one issue that comes to mind involving the environment is the poor condition of our water ways. This is especially upsetting because the city seems to take some pride in the fact that three rivers meet in it and even have a large week-long festival named after it, Three Rivers.

 

My mind went straight to a presentation given by a local grassroots project while I was studying at my previous college in Fort Wayne. Abigail Frost, founder of Save Maumee Grassroots Movement, spoke about her current efforts as well as how these three bodies of water came to be as unpleasant as they are today.

 

The St. Joe River is where over 200,000 people get their drinking water. This meets the St. Mary’s and both then flow together to create the Maumee. The St. Mary’s, which floods frequently and is highly polluted, passes through much of northeast Indiana. These two rivers come together to form the Maumee, which contains high levels of mercury, PCB and E. coli.,fish consumption advisories, as well as the accumulation of sediment and garbage. The Maumee just so happens to be the longest and largest contributing river to the Great Lakes (Frost).

 

The Maumee has been polluted since before January of 1975, which is when the EPA conducted an investigation on it as well as the section that passes through the Toledo area(Water). The legal release of pollutants by 38 industrial contributors has taken a toll on the health of these rivers. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has been criticized because of its inability to enforce when these regulations are violated (Frost).

 

Another contributing factor is the outdated and degrading status of the sewer system. Combined sewer overflows (CSO’s) take storm water runoff, sewer discharge, and industrial waste to all be processed at a water treatment facility. With heavy rainfall or snowmelt thesesystems are designed to overflow into nearby streams, rivers or bodies of water when capacity is exceeded. In Fort Wayne this can happen when 0.1 inches of rain falls. On average this amount of rain is produced 71 days out of the year. In 2006 it happened every 2.4 days. These overflows mean that one billion gallons of raw sewage are being dumped into the rivers each year (Frost).

 

As mentioned before the Maumee is the longest and largest contributing stream to the Great Lakes. This means that the pollution of this river has a negative impact on all the communities and wildlife from Fort Wayne to the Great Lakes. The Three Rivers Festival used to have a Raft Race and there also used to be a beach at the Johnny Appleseed Park, but because of excessive pollution are now unfeasible (Frost)This takes away additional revenue these activities may have produced for the city or local businesses as well as a uniqueness that may have made the city an attractive place to live or visit. Boating enthusiasts as well as fishermen are deterred from using these waterways for their recreation due to their poor condition, adding to the negative economic effects as well as social effects. Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) is situated on the bank of the St. Joe River. They have recently constructed a beautiful bridge for pedestrian and bike traffic to the soccer fields on the other side of the river.However, the poor quality of the water than runs under this bridge could potentially have a negative effect on the likelihood of a student or student athlete deciding to attend this college. Thus losing tuition money as well as revenue this athlete may have produced. Elite professors and or students deciding not to come to this school because of the poor environmental aesthetics may hinder the chances that IPFW makes a household name of itself. This snowballing effect can all this could be traced back to a series of polluted rivers.

 

There are solutions to help prevent or eliminate the number of overflows a city can take that has a combined system. The first is to modify the existing system to separate the wastewater from the runoff water. The city of Minneapolis is aggressively pursuing this solution to their CSO’s. Separation started in the 1960’s and CSO’s are rare compared to other cities. Remaining combined sewers are still in place there due to the difficulty and expenses to separate them. Part of this problem is up to the home or business owner. If built prior to 1961 many structures have piping that runs off the roof and directly into the sanitary sewer system. Redirecting this water onto grade or to a storm drain on the street are the primary solutions (Minneapolis).

 

Another avenue of solutions leans more toward urban forestry. Riverkeeper, a member-supported watchdog organization, has also addressed the problem with CSO’s that discharge into New York Harbor. “More than 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwaterdischarge out of 460 combined sewage overflows (“CSOs”) into New York Harbor alone each year” (Riverkeeper). This organization proposes implementing green streets, street trees, green roofs and rain barrels. Green streets are areas that use vegetated facilities to manage stormwaterat its source. If applied in New York City it could reduce CSO’s by 14,800 gallons. Implementing street trees could reduce an additional 13,170 gallons of water from CSO systems.Another way is through green roofs, reducing 800 to potentially 12,000 gallons. Utilizing rain barrels can subtract 9,000 gallons (Riverkeeper).

 

Seeing how these rivers are intricately connected to the city of Fort Wayne as well as all the communities to the Great Lakes calls for immediate action, especially Fort Wayne. Being the “Summit City” all the poor environmental practices carried out here will unfairly punish communities who may be carrying out safe methods. Fixing this problem has nothing but good outcomes for all. Cleaner rivers where those 200,000 people get their water increases their health as well as that of the environment. Cleaning these rivers may also add to the attractiveness of the city and add population growth, industry growth and overall prosperity.  

 

Like all policies there will be consequences of implementing them and these proposed solutions to CSO’s present no exception. There will certainly be a cost associated with change, either through reconstruction and separation of the sewage system or by introducing urban forestry to the area or a combination of the two. This issue can be met with a costs and benefits presentation that shows how the city will benefit from this policy. Visual outcomes will be cleaner looking rivers as well as a return to river recreation, should the other problems associated with the river be resolved as well. Also expected is resistance from citizens as well as officials who will have to pay monetary costs as well as comfort and convenience costs that this policy will forfeit during the time of construction and implementation. Then the obvious expected outcome is the stated policy objective which is a lower number if not a complete eradication of overflows into local rivers.

 

There is the possibility of unexpected outcomes occurring but if carried out properly they will be few. With the urban forestry approach there could be complications with tree roots. They have been known for damaging sidewalks, sewer systems and other manmade structures. Extraresearch will need to be conducted to assure the buildings can carry the extra weight the vegetation, soil and water that will be added to them. Normally this weight would not exist because the plants do not exist and rain or snow fall runs off the roofs and gutters. Also if not situated properly there could be the possibility of damage done to nearby areas to falling trees in the event of a storm.

There is also a positive unanticipated effect towards implementing more trees into an area. More trees and vegetation will increase the quality of the air, which in the long run may increase health of the populace by eliminating causes of disease and sickness. Incorporating more vegetation will also create an aesthetically pleasing effect for the area and may make it more attractive towards visitors and tourists. This in turn may unknowingly increase sales in the immediate area.  

 

With the separation of the current combined sewer system the project company as well as the city must be ready for the inconveniences. For instance traffic may increase where construction is being carried out. There is also the possibility that accidents happen that damage the existing infrastructure creating unintentional flooding or ground cave ins. With the separation of the storm from sewage water also creates an unintended negative side effect. All the storm water that collects oil, chemicals and other pollutants will head directly toward local rivers.There are measures limit or prevent this from happening. At high traffic areas of storm water entering bodies of water there have been filter systems that capture many impurities. These must be tended to often however to remain effective (Tolliver).

 

There is also a positive side effect towards the separation of the system. The cleaning process will use fewer chemicals, such as chlorine and aluminum sulphate, to process the lower volumes of water that would travel through the plant.

 

As far as tradeoffs between the current and proposed policies it is basically a one sided argument. Apart from having both storm water and sewage water being processed equally there is no benefit now for the combined sewer system. At one time it was considered breakthrough technology but as the city of Fort Wayne grew it frequently overwhelmed the system.

 

With a population of over 200,000 and average precipitation of 38.3 inches per year, it is unreasonable to have a combined sewer system in place (What)On average there are 71 times a year where the combined system overflows sending one billion gallons of raw sewage into the rivers every year. After conducting research for this project I have found that Fort Wayne plans to make the transition from combined to separate systems over the course of the next fifteen years. When completed they have predicted that the chances of overflows will go from 71 times a year to 4 (Long)The remaining overflows could be eliminated by incorporating urban forestry into the infrastructure of the city. Some of this can be done by volunteers by planting trees in parks or other open areas. More complicated projects such as green buildings and green streets will most likely be handles by professionals.

 

Transitioning from the combined to separate system can be carried out simultaneously with the urban forestry, so long as the budget and resources of the city permit it. This combination of policies will improve water quality, aesthetics of the environment, air quality andadd to a continually decrease in the environment and many more snowballing positive outcomes with little to no risk.

 

 

 

Works Cited

“Combined Sewer Overflow – A Minneapolis Solution.” City of Minneapolis, Minnesota – Official Web SiteWeb. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cso/>.

 

“Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) | Riverkeeper.” Riverkeeper – NY’s Clean Water Advocate. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/sewage-contamination/cso/>.

 

“EPA Combined Sewer Overflows – Office of Wastewater Management.” U.S. EPA ColdFusion Server. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=5>.

 

Frost, Abigail. Save Maumee – Index. Abigail Frost, 2005. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. <http://savemaumee.org/>.

 

“Long Term Control Plan Chapter 4.” City of Fort Wayne Indiana. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. 

<http://www.cityoffortwayne.org/utilities/images/stories/docs/ltcp/chapter_4.pdf>.

 

Toliver, Aaron. Personal Interview. 16 Nov. 2011.

 

“Water Pollution Investigation: Maumee River and Toledo Area.” EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency.Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/20009SDZ.TXT?ZyActionD=ZyDocument>.

 

Rivers Causing Illness to Recreationists

February 1st, 2012

Hello All,

I spoke to Julie Horney today and she gave me a different perspective about our efforts.  Julie became ill with Hepatitis, Thrombocytopenia,  hepatomegaly (eventually causing Anemia) – probably due to E. coli – within 24 hours of her contact with our rivers.  There needs to be a face that represents the problems we face with our river conditions…enough to cause illness! Her contact with the water is causing her weakness and sickness months later, and still to this day ~ no medication to help, only living through the illness she contracted due to contact with our local waterways!  So who is is the responsible party for her illnesses? City? County? DNR? Julie wants postings at all entry points to waterways; as to the hazards of using the waterways for recreation.  I wanted to share her story with you.  ALL of us need to be aware of the dangers of our local waterways!  If you think that our rivers in Indiana are disgusting, your natural resources are being robbed from you.  Thank you for reading her story!   ~ Abby

 

Baby don’t fear the . . . cyanobacteria!

 Julie Horney on her voyage the day she became sick

 If the “wind, the summer, the rain” were present that fateful Tuesday evening like it is in the famous rock-n-roll song from the 70s, well then I might not be sick right now! Let me explain:

 October 11th was a beautiful Fall evening for the Fort Wayne kayaking group to enjoy the Cedarville Reservoir.  The Reservoir is in Leo, Indiana and north of the dam that divides the St. Joe River as it flows south to Fort Wayne.  My last paddle in the Reservoir was over a year ago in the middle of the summer.  About 2 miles north of the dam is the Leo boat launch from which my husband often completes his race practices.  The group launched at the same place that night, headed southwest instead of north, in water that looked as murky as it always did.  We noted nothing unusual, that is, no scum or smell, except maybe it was a little greener.

 Greener, indeed!  We ended the evening with our usual homemade cookies from one of our older regulars, chatted a bit, loaded up, and headed home.  By morning, I was feeling ill!  Within a day I was doubled over in pain, sick with diarrhea, fighting a headache and concerned I might have caught the flu.  Fortunately I was able to see my doctor on Thursday. who suspected otherwise.  The nausea medication gave some relief but the pain persisted and my breathing had become shallow periodically over the next 12 hours.  My doctor saw me immediately after I called his office on Friday, ordered some tests and my husband Steve and I were off to the emergency room for more tests and treatment.  I had become dehydrated and no one knew for sure what was going on.

I was crying out to the Lord for relief.  IV pain medications and nausea medications began to manage the symptoms.  The nurse practitioner suspected viral hepatitis and I was discharged home.  Thrombocytopenia and hepatomegaly were later added to the medical record.  I learned later that for the hepatotoxicity which caused the hepatitis, “supportive therapy” is all that is recommended:  defined as emergency life support in its various forms if needed.  Gratefully, I did not need that!  But a few days went by and I couldn’t eat much, nausea and new symptoms settled in, and I just wasn’t convinced I was getting any better.  Steve suggested I try to find a special diet or something that could help me.  He was right.

Thank God for the internet!  Google and Google Scholar became my constant companions.  I propped myself up in front of the computer in between naps and began searching for answers.  By this point I had become suspicious of the water in the Reservoir and looked for whatever data I could find on the Fort Wayne Rivers, Indiana water quality reports, etc.  Then I found it.  In the middle of a 2005 report on Indiana Lakes and Reservoirs was a chart of Cyanobacteria toxins, organisms, acute effects mechanisms of action, and signs and symptoms of intoxication.  I found a list of the exact symptoms I had experienced.  In the “Therapy” column was a note, “Not well investigated.”

There must be more information somewhere.  Cyanobacteria is also known as blue-green algae.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, it “grows in any type of water and are photosynthetic (use sunlight to create food and support life).  Cyanobacteria live in terrestrial, fresh, brackish, or marine water.  They are usually too small to be seen, but sometimes can form visible colonies, called an algal bloom” (p. 1, from www.cdc.gov/hab/cyanobacteria/facts.htm).  The blooms can be bright green, brown, red, or may not affect the appearance of the water at all.  “As the algae in a cyanobacterail bloom die, the water may smell bad” (p. 1).  The organisms are commonly present in the water in the early Spring and early Fall.  Given the mild Fall we were having, the slow current of the St. Joe, and absence of a recent rainfall, I wonder if we were still in the “early Fall” conditions right for cyanobacteria.  We were paddling in partly shallow waters, perhaps warmed by the sun.

 

 Briefly for paddlers, we can be exposed to the chemical substances that cause a toxic effect by:

  • Drinking water from a lake or reservoir with CyanoHB (the type that threatens people and animals), including accidentally swallowing the water
  • Drinking untreated water
  • Engaging in recreational activities in waters with CyanoHB
  • Inhaling aerosols from water-related activities (jet-skiing or boating)
  • Inhaling aerosols when using the water around the home
  • Entering through a person’s skin who has a cut or open sore

 

Symptoms of infection vary with the specific parasite ingested and can take hours or days to show up in people or animals.  Although I had an acute condition, I wondered where I could find information on any research-based alternative medicine or dietary approaches to hepatitis.  The American Liver Foundation had the best, most balanced information so I changed my diet immediately.  I started getting another measure better.  Since I am not an expert, I won’t go into the details of some other measures that are helping.  Gratefully, a local pharmacist at a compounding pharmacy was willing to do some research and instructed me on which supplements to stop that I had been taking (to reduce the load on my liver).  He and his colleague also made a few recommendations of two supplements to add based upon the limited research available.

At the time of this writing, I continue to improve daily.  My doctor discontinued the body fluid precautions when my lab work showed improvement, easing things around the home.  My endurance and respiratory capacity are reduced yet improving.  Since I work in health care, we will be cautious before releasing me to return to work.  It is now too cold for this recreational paddler to consider getting back into the water anyways.   I will have lots to think about this winter before returning to kayaking next year.

 

For example, I am not sure the exact mode that led to my exposure to cyanobacter and specifically cylindrospermopsin.  A winged paddle increases splashing and a paddler gets wet as water flies through the air.  Four of us kayaked with winged/racing paddles that evening and none of them, nor anyone else in the group, got sick.  I had just purchased a beginner surf ski and was sitting in water for most of the paddle, soaking my skin with the possibly infected waters.  Also, my water bottle did not have a tight seal around the mouthpiece and I tried to carefully extract a snack from its packaging with my (albeit wet) paddling gloves.  Evidently, too many possibilities for exposure and I got sick.

 dead-cow.jpg

 The reason I am writing this article is to share with you the following precautions direct from the CDC (p. 2):

  • Don’t swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • If you do swim in water that might have a CyanoHAB, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.  (This includes an accidental spill!)
  • Don’t let pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • If pets (especially dogs) swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately – do not let them lick the algae (and toxins) off their fur.
  • Don’t irrigate lawns (or gardens) . . . with pond water that looks scummy or smells bad.
  • Report any “musty” smell or taste in your drinking water to your local water utility.
  • Respect any water-body closures announced by local public health authorities (as I had witnessed many times along the Chicago shoreline when I lived in Illinois).

 Mary Jane Slaton of the Fort Wayne City Utilities adds that, after exposure to potentially infested waters, a person should use hand sanitizer before eating.

(Personal communication 10/25/2011). 

 Most importantly, remove yourself from the exposure and get medical attention right away if you think that you or your pet has been poisoned by cyanobacterial toxins.  In the words of Ms. Slayton, “rivers (in particular) are natural water bodies.  They sometimes have things (in them) that affect people’s health” (ibid).

While I agree, I also feel a responsibility to educate others more specifically on what to look for, what to do, and what not to do.  It’s like the universal precautions we use in healthcare settings.  Good hand washing prevents the spread of disease.  I guess that now extends to our paddling equipment as well.

~Julie Horney

 

Killing waterways won’t revive the economy

January 21st, 2012

Toledo Blade Sunday, January 15, 2012

COMMENTARY

BY KRISTY MEYER

Some of our members of Congress evidently need a refresher course in clean water.

From the mid-1800s to the late 1960s, many rivers in the United States — including Ohio’s Cuyahoga River — caught fire because of uncontrolled dumping of pollution.

In the 1930s, algae blooms became a nuisance in the Great Lakes. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources concluded in 1953 that “long periods of pollution barriers to fish existed in the form of toxic material or deficient oxygen.” In the 1960s and 1970s, scientists declared Lake Erie biologically dead.

As a result, the U.S. and Canadian governments passed two historic pieces of legislation: the federal Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Our lakes and rivers rebounded.

People flocked to Lake Erie and other waterways to fish, swim, and boat. Small businesses that depended on the lake’s fishery and water-based recreation flourished.

The number of coastal marine businesses along Lake Erie’s coast has more than doubled, from 207 in 1977 to 425 today. In 1975, there were 34 charter boat captains. Today, there are about 800 of these small-business owners.

The take-home message: Clean water yields good jobs and recreation. Yet many lawmakers now want to gut the Clean Water Act.

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They want to stop any federal agency from protecting our waterways from increased pollution. These politicians claim they are acting in the name of jobs and the economy. They apparently think that clean water strangles employment and recreation.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 90 percent of Ohioans get their drinking water from small or seasonal streams. Yet Congress is threatening to strip these streams of protections in place for 40 years under the Clean Water Act. If lawmakers abandon these streams, they become vulnerable to being filled and polluted.

Some of our leaders think that Americans must chose between the health of their families and the health of our economy. As a scientist, I know that life depends on clean air and water.

As a co-breadwinner, I know that my husband and children depend on a thriving economy. And as a mother, I am not willing to sacrifice the environment or my children’s health.

The Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have helped Americans live healthier and longer lives. Yet Congress is placing our drinking water, our health, and our economy in its cross hairs.

Toxic Algae Bloom

Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys are enduring toxic algae blooms that rival those of the 1970s. This is no time for Congress to roll back protections for waterways that provide drinking water, food, and jobs to millions of Ohioans.

President Obama should swiftly restore Clean Water Act protections to our streams, rivers, and lakes. His administration has started to define which waterways are legally considered waters of the United States, and thus afforded these protections. But big-money polluters and their friends in Congress are trying to stand in the way.

Now is the time for Ohioans to raise our voices to protect our waters. Don’t wait until you can no longer fish or swim in your favorite fishing hole.

Tell Ohio’s U.S. senators and representatives to vote no on any attempts to attack the Clean Water Act. Do it now — before it’s too late.

Kristy Meyer is director of agricultural and clean water programs for the Ohio Environmental Council in Columbus.

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