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kid reporter charlie kadado at hawk woods nature center Kid Reporter Charlie Kadado at the Hawk Woods Nature Center in Michigan where volunteers help keep the Clinton River pollution free. (Photo courtesy Charlie Kadado)

How to Clean a River

Volunteers take care of the Clinton River

By Charlie Kadado | April 23 , 2010

One of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. is now kept clean thanks to the help of volunteers.

The Hawk Woods Nature Center of Auburn Hills, Michigan, trains volunteers during workshops like a "Water Be Wise" event held recently by Mike Mansour, a naturalist at the E. Dale Fisk Hawk Woods Nature Center. The training was part of this year's Earth Day celebrations.

"I love nature and I believe that everyone needs to care more for our environment in order to protect the planet," Mansour said. He encourages kids to participate in keeping their local environments clean. "Kids need to get outside, play, and enjoy. Kids need to show enthusiasm, curiosity, and engagement about the planet."

Hawk Woods consists of 81 acres of land, including cabins, fire pits, and educational facilities. The Clinton River winds through the land connecting Lake Saint Clair to Lake Erie. Volunteers sample sites along the river to test for pollution, bugs, and any changes in the water's composition.

The Clinton River was once viewed as one of the worst polluted rivers in the nation. It had become contaminated from septic systems, sediments, urbanization, wastewater, and storm water.

"The worst threat for water today is industrial pollution, oil, and gasoline," Mansour said.

Volunteers look for aquatic plants, floating algae, oil sheens, foam, trash, and other materials that don't belong in the water. The goals of the team are to increase education and stewardship, identify areas that may have potential restoration products, and develop long-term records of stream health in the watershed.

The data Mansour and his team collect are shared with local governments for research to promote clean water throughout the region. Mansour and his team monitor the waters twice a year for physical inventory and accuracy.

Mansour is not only concerned with keeping water clean and healthy to drink. He also advocates water conservation.

"We have got to stop using so much water," he said. "We need to reduce our consumption including lawns and golf courses. We have to start recognizing the value of water. Take short showers and all kinds of personal things that we can do."

For more information about the Clinton River Watershed Council visit crwc.org.

EARTH DAY @ 40

Celebrate 40 years of Earth Day and the fight to keep our planet clean on April 22. Scholastic Kid Reporters explore ways to make every day Earth Day in the Earth Day @ 40 Special Report.

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