What You Can (ACTUALLY) Do About Pollution

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. 

If you are reading this, you live in a watershed. Southeastern Wisconsin is comprised of a number of watersheds. Both the Greater Milwaukee Watershed and The Root River Watershed make their way to Lake Michigan.

That being said it’s likely when you picture Lake Michigan or the Milwaukee River, you might not picture the beautiful waters that you wish they were. Although both and surrounding rivers are much healthier than there were ten years ago, they still have a long way to go. Many of the challenges they face are because of pollution that is carried by stormwater and melting snow. Anything that is left astray on a sidewalk, road, or lawn will end up in the sewer system and ultimately our rivers and Lake Michigan. 

The Respect Our Waters Campaign sets out to raise awareness of these problems and show residents of Southeastern Wisconsin that the solution starts with them, not a new water treatment plant or sewer system. This campaign brings back the Kindergarten Principle of; If everyone does their share, we can make a difference. 

Sparkles, the campaign spokesdog (and a should be role model for everyone), a water spaniel, gives seven tips FOR YOU to help improve our rivers and lakes.

Don’t Be a Drip: 

Inspect your car regularly to stop oil and fluid leaks

Wash Carefully: 

Take your car to a car wash or wash it on your lawn.

Scoop Up The Poop:

Clean up after your pets (and don’t feed the waterfowl).

Give Your Rake A Break: 

Leave grass clippings on your lawn or compost them.


Direct Downspouts into rain barrels, yards, or gardens instead of the sewer or driveway.

Take a Test: 

Test your Soil before you fertilize.

Capture Rainwater: 

Plant a rain garden and trees.

Doing these simple things can make a big difference. Don’t wait around for someone else to do it,  actually do it yourself. Lake Michigan and all of our rivers have the potential to be more beautiful and healthy than ever, but they will only get there with your help.

This campaign is a Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. (aka Sweet Water) initiative. Sweet Water is committed to restoring the Greater Milwaukee watersheds to conditions that are healthy for swimming and fishing. They bring diverse partners together and provide the leadership and innovation necessary to protect and restore our shared water resources.

To learn more and get involved check out:

To see what else Sweet Water is doing in Southeastern Wisconsin check out:

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