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Partners for Clean Streams

Andy James


The Organization

Partners for Clean Streams, a 501(c)3 non-profit

The Mission

Partners for Clean Streams’ (PCS) 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. PCS regularly works with community stakeholders and directly engages citizens in actively caring for our water resources. Among other things, PCS leads the largest stream cleanup program in the western Lake Erie Basin, educates both kids and professionals at stream quality workshops, leads regional watershed planning, and oversees large habitat and stream improvement projects.

PCS has a nine person Board and a small, but committed, staff of three. Our funding, like most not-for-profits, goes up and down depending on grants. Therefore, every dollar received from businesses and individuals is greatly appreciated and carefully maximized. PCS has undertaken large stream habitat restoration projects, including at a local Boy Scout camp, and regional watershed planning efforts involving dozens of partners all working towards clear, clean, and safe waters.

Through all our programs and projects, we focus on getting people actively engaged in caring for their waterways, through stewardship and education. This is especially important now in Toledo after the drinking water crisis; when the greater Toledo region was without clean drinking water for nearly three days. As a result of the water crisis, our community is much more aware and concerned about our water resource. One of our most impactful programs towards bettering water quality in the Toledo-area is Clean Your Streams.

Because our Clean Your Streams project is so large, here are some links for more information: 

The Project

Partners for Cleans Streams is requesting funds for Clean Your Streams and Clean Your Streams 365.

During the annual Clean Your Streams event, approximately 1,000 volunteers armed with gloves and bags remove tons (literally) of trash from dozens of local stream banks, ditches, lakeshores, and rivers. Last year, Clean Your Streams volunteers removed over 13,500 pounds of trash from Toledo-area waterways!  

All trash is reported as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. The detailed tracking of trash, or marine debris, helps inform local jurisdictions of trouble areas that require more attention. After a morning of removing everything from plastic bottles and cigarette butts to mattresses and tires, our dedicated volunteers celebrate clean water at our Appreciation Picnic.

Clean Your Streams 365 is the yearlong extension of Clean Your Streams day and aims to reduce build-up of trash along streams and rivers throughout the year.  Volunteers can schedule their own private river cleanup, on their own time and in a pre-selected location. All supplies, logistics, and maps are provided by PCS. Education on water quality issues is crucial to the success of these programs. Both Clean Your Streams and Clean Your Streams 365 engage citizens across all demographics and across multiple jurisdictions, allowing for many local neighborhoods to be positively impacted. 

This September will be the 20th anniversary of Clean Your Streams Day. While we wish such a large-scale cleanup wasn't necessary and that marine debris was not a problem in our world today, we know that this program goes beyond the immediate, visible difference it makes in our communities. It connects people to their waterways and instills a desire to protect them for the future. Not only do many of our volunteers return year after year, but they also take Clean Your Streams beyond that day and find ways to help prevent marine debris in the first place. Some of our young volunteers have been so impacted by their involvement in Clean Your Streams that they have pursued higher education and professional positions in the environmental field. PCS leads this regional cleanup because it is a powerful way to connect people to their waterways and to connect partners working towards clear, clean, and safe water. Clean Your Streams is an important program to provide people with a way to actively care for their rivers, and to learn a little about water along the way. It's a visible extension of our mission.

Check out these videos on Clean Your Streams to learn more about why we do what we do: &

The Location

60+ stream bank sites across the greater Toledo Ohio area, along 8 rivers and many smaller streams. Our rivers include the lower Maumee River from Bowling Green, Ohio to Lake Erie and many other direct Lake Erie tributaries in Lucas and Wood Counties. Many of the stream bank cleanup sites are in heavily urban areas.

Key Project Milestones

Partners for Clean Streams spends 7 months working with a wide variety of partners to plan our annual Clean Your Streams program. Since 2007, we have lead the planning and fundraising for this large, regional stream cleanup. For the 20th annual Clean Your Streams, we have begun determining the areas that need cleaned up, developing the online registration, inventoried supplies to determine what needs replenished, fundraising, and secured 8 kickoff locations across the greater Toledo area (shelter houses, churches, etc. as initial gathering spots to organize volunteers from before beginning the cleanup). 
Upcoming Needs/Milestones

  • PCS needs additional funding to support the program.
  • Launching the registration website in early August.
  • Advertising widely for volunteers. 
  • Finalizing the clean up sites based on needs & access. 
  • And of course, for the weather to cooperate on Sept. 17th and the volunteers to show up to clean their rivers!

Rough Budget for This Project

$20,000 plus in kind donations, services, and lots of sweat equity!