On a Saturday morning last October, some 27,000 Girl Scouts, parents and adult volunteers worked to clean up and protect lakes, rivers and streams in Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.
For the Girl Scouts, it was an opportunity to put into practice some of what they have learned about fighting water pollution. For the lakes, rivers and streams, it was an opportunity to be spared a lot of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that, otherwise, would have flowed into them from storm sewers across 49 counties.
The Girl Scouts raked up and bagged 2 million pounds of leaves, soil and other debris from streets, parks and other public spaces. By keeping the leaves and other organic material out of storm sewers, the Girl Scouts helped fight the nutrient-fed excess algae growth that often chokes surface waters in urban areas.
The Girl Scouts also stenciled 7,000 storm sewer entrances with an anti-pollution message. Many of the messages said: “Please Don’t Pollute. Drains To Mississippi River.”
In recognition of this huge — and hugely successful — effort, the Freshwater Society is honoring the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys council with the Society’s first annual Clean Water Champion Award.
“To mobilize 27,000 people on one day, and to keep this amount of organic material out of our rivers and streams, was just a phenomenal feat,” said Joan Nephew, the Freshwater Society’s executive director. “We are proud to have partnered with the Girl Scouts in this effort.
“And we are prouder still that many of the Girl Scouts have committed to repeating the clean-up this fall.”
The Girl Scouts conducted the massive Community Clean-Up For Water Quality as part of their Centennial Day of Service: 2012 Take Action Project. The Freshwater Society and the Friends of the Minnesota Valley helped organize and coordinate the clean-up. The 3M company was the event’s corporate sponsor.
The Clean Water Champion award will be presented to the Girl Scouts of the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys council on Thursday, April 11, at the Freshwater Society’s Ice OUT/Loon IN Party and FUNraiser. Learn more about the event and register to attend. The event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lafayette Club in Minnetonka Beach.