Spearheaded by Rotary District 7090 Governor Frank Adamson (Rotary Club of Fonthill), the Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup initiative is an effort that has grown from a District 7090 service project covering a small portion of Lakes Ontario and Erie to a multi-district plan to focus Rotarians’ attention to all 5 of the Great Lakes and streams and waterways feeding them. 

The goal is to make this the single largest cleanup event ever planned and coinciding with Earth Day 2021 on the Great Lakes Watershed.  The Great Lakes contains almost 20% of the world’s fresh water and is arguably the largest source of fresh water on the planet.  It borders 8 states and 2 provinces and has 9,577 miles (15,323 kilometers) of shoreline.  So far 15 Districts, 100’s of Clubs, and thousands of Rotary volunteers have agreed to participate.  

Trash, plastics, and other littered items plague our waterways.  This trash poses a threat to terrestrial and aquatic life, often becomes microplastics and harmful toxins, and pollutes one of the most precious and limited natural resources.  Shopping carts, tires, furniture, trash, foam cups, plastic containers, and aluminum cans contaminate our waterways and greenways.  More than 22 million pounds (10 million kilograms) of trash and plastic pollution ends up in the Great Lakes each year.

Due to COVID restrictions, particularly in Ontario, the cleanup was delayed. Welland Rotarians, with the participation of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, recently participated in a cleanup of the Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area. Coordinated by Rotarian Don Campbell and spearheaded by President Sandy Graham, several Rotarians and family members joined in the cleanup. As of July 1, 2021, Rotary will have a seventh Avenue of Service – Support the Environment.