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Great Lakes Article:

Signs promote teamwork to fight pollution in watershed
By Stephen Bitsoli
The Macomb Daily
Published July 5, 2006

The Macomb County Public Works Office and the Road Commission of Macomb County will post 10 signs this year identifying the Savan Drain and other tributaries as part of the Lake St. Clair watershed

The signs will also contain the slogan, "Ours to Protect."

"We've had the ('Ours to Protect') program in effect for the past two years," said Lynne Seymour, environmental engineer for Macomb County Public Works. "We're trying to build awareness that what's in the street will end up in your lakes and rivers."

A watershed is any area that catches rain and melting snow, which then drains or seeps into a body of water, such as Lake St. Clair. The Lake St. Clair watershed extends from parts of Harrison Township in the north to Grosse Pointe Park in the south.

The Savan Drain sign is on Metropolitan Parkway just east of Shoreline Drive in Harrison Township. Other signs are planned for the Cottrell Drain, on the border of Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores; the Fish Creek and Salt River in Chesterfield Township; two spots along the Harrington Drain in Clinton Township; the McBride Drain and the Gloede Drain in Macomb Township; Coon Creek in Ray Township; and the Yates Brach Drain in Washington Township.

Public Works also installed 10 signs last year along the Clinton River. Individual communities are putting up signs as well, including Sterling Heights, Warren and Clinton Township. And in St. Clair Shores, volunteers stencil warnings by the storm drains that point out that what goes into the drains goes into the lake.

In Harrison Township, the Huron Pointe Homeowners Association contacted Public Works about purchasing some of their signs and putting them up themselves. "It's great to have a neighborhood involved," Seymour said.

In addition to the signs, Macomb County Public Works also makes recommendations, Seymour said, about "what actions you can take to improve water quality. We try to target what you can do at home." Best of all, the steps shouldn't cost you money, and might even save you money.

Among Macomb County Commissioner Anthony V. Marrocco's suggestions are use less fertilizer, do not dump gasoline, oil or other toxic fuels into the storm drains, and do not drop litter in storm drains, rivers and lakes.

Macomb County Public Works is also a member of the Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water, which was formed by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. The partnership includes counties, communities, watershed councils, the private sector, and water quality professionals throughout southeast Michigan.

The amount of rain may be a factor, but water quality seems to have improved this year, Seymour said. Though you can't judge based on one good year, at least there have been fewer lake closings and the fish fly population looks healthy.

It is a hopeful sign however, as is the fact that "people are taking more of an interest" in water quality. "We're getting feedback from the community. They're helping us to track down sources of pollution."

To report a polluter, call the Macomb County Public Works hotline at (877) 679-4337. For more information on Southeast Michigan Partners for Clean Water, visit www.semcog.org/ourstoprotect/ourstoprotect.htm or call (313) 961-4266.


 

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