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Ohio's Water Sentinels Keep a Watchful Eye



April 11, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - From the Ohio River to Lake Erie, volunteers across the state are helping to protect Ohio waterways from pollution.

Experts say storm-water pollution, nutrient runoff and natural resource extraction all threaten water quality, but it's nearly impossible for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to monitor Ohio's more than 199,000 miles of rivers and streams. That's where "water sentinels" are stepping in to test water quality.

Jeff Cox, a volunteer leader with the Sierra Club's Clean Water Campaign in Central Ohio, says it's an issue that hits close to home.

"We have waterways in our backyard that we cannot get into, and I have to explain to my grandchildren why we can't get into the water, the health of the water. And so, it's so important to me to educate the public, especially for the safety and the health of children."

Monitoring water is an easy process that anyone can learn, Cox says. The Clean Water Campaign provides water-testing kits, training and sample analysis to people and groups who care about clean water. About 150 water sentinels are signed up in the state.

Since April is Earth Month, Cox says, it's a good time to think about our relationship with the environment and how people are treating the planet. He encourages all Ohioans to get out and explore a local waterway.

"Everyone should think more about water, how important it is, and watch what they put on the surface of the Earth, because it all runs off to our streams."

Each April, the Sierra Club and Aveda salons team up to raise support and awareness for clean water. Last year they collected more than $135,000 in Ohio alone.

To get involved or learn more, visit an Aveda salon or institute, or look on the web at ohiochaptersierraclub.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH