On Saturday, July 14 at 1 p.m., Respect Our Waters will be at the West Allis Farmers Market, 6501 W. National Ave., to educate residents on individual actions they can take to help improve area rivers and Lake Michigan. The group will answer questions, provide information and give away items to keep area waterways clean and healthy.
The first 100 people to visit the Respect Our Waters table will receive pet waste bags. In addition, residents can register to win a rain barrel and Milorganite.
Respect Our Waters is a public education campaign that encourages area residents to do their part to help protect and improve the waterways. During the initiative, Respect Our Waters will be at more than 15 community events in southeastern Wisconsin and will distribute a total of 18,000 pet waste bags. In addition, TV spots that feature a fun dog puppet will help “train” humans on good water behavior.
“We want everyone to know that they play an important role in keeping our rivers and lakes clean and healthy,” says Jeff Martinka, co-chair of Respect Our Waters and executive director of Sweet Water (Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust). “There are some simple and easy actions that can greatly help our waterways.”
According to Martinka, residents should:
• Pick up pet waste.
• Leave grass clippings on the lawn.
• Use lawn fertilizer and chemicals sparingly. In fact, he recommends testing the soil to make sure the yard really needs the extra nutrients before applying fertilizer.
• Inspect vehicles to make sure they’re not leaking oil or other fluids.
• Plant a rain garden and trees.
• Direct downspouts into rain barrels, the yard or garden instead of the sewer or driveway.
• Use a carwash or wash cars on the lawn.
The TV ads, which feature Sparkles the Water Spaniel dog puppet, emphasize bad and good human behavior. Jeff Cesario, a Kenosha-born stand-up comedian who is nationally known, voices Sparkles.
In four, 30-second spots, Sparkles focuses his attention on the importance of picking up yard debris, cleaning up dog poop, using lawn fertilizer and chemicals responsibly and preventing oil and fluids from leaking from cars. The spots catch Sparkles as he drops in on area homeowners and trains the humans by:
• whacking a man with a newspaper who’s sweeping grass clippings and other debris into the street
• rewarding a woman with a treat for picking up her dog’s poop
• squirting a guy with water as he liberally applies chemicals to his lawn, after over fertilizing the week before
• shaking a noisy can at a man whose car is leaking oil onto the street
“The spots use humor to deliver a strong and direct message that individual actions can either help or hurt our area waterways,” says Martinka. “We’ve found that the public doesn’t really understand that individual pollution is a significant contributor to the water pollution problem.”
For more information, visit www.respectourwaters.com, swwtwater.org or rootpikewin.org.
The Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust (Sweet Water) is a partnership established in 2008 to achieve healthy and sustainable water resources throughout the Greater Milwaukee Watersheds through the coordinated, collaborative efforts of its members. Root-Pike WIN, established in 2000, is a nonprofit organization focused on the protection, restoration and sustainability of the Root River and Pike River watersheds.
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