Watermarks: When Pollution Inspires Action

Jeff Kart
April 05, 2018

This issue of Great Lakes Connection falls during the month of Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22. We’ve dug into the archives and found several fitting examples of Watermarks, which have been recorded for years by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. These video and written vignettes help document what makes the lakes special to people, and lasting memories they have.

See below for samples of how pollution has inspired residents throughout the basin to get involved.


McClean Joyce McClean of Toronto, Ontario, describes herself as a longtime environmentalist.

McClean says “My ‘aha’ moment came in my teenage years when I realized how polluted the Great Lakes were becoming.”

She later became involved with Greenpeace and adds, “… the entire ecosystem is just so beautiful and most people are not connected to it in a way that I think we all should be because it’s such an important natural resource.”



brummit watermark

Anne Brummit of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says she’s felt a calling to do something about the environment ever since 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated (and spearheaded by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson).

“… We need to respect these lakes – they’re powerful,” says Brummit, co-executive director of Milwaukee Water Commons. “Other places have mountains, but we have our lakes.”



Natalie Robertson calls Lake Ontario “a source of great inspiration, wonderment - and concern” that fueled “my passion for nature, wildlife, and conservation.”

robertson watermark
Credit: Natalie Robertson

The IJC began partnering with LOW in 2016 to help collect additional Watermarks from the Great Lakes.

How can you become active? The Earth Day Network has a wealth of information on various environmental issues. Earth Day celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020. Keep an eye out for Watermark booths at upcoming IJC and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper events, or submit your own.

Jeff Kart

Jeff Kart is executive editor of the IJC’s monthly Great Lakes Connection and quarterly Water Matters newsletters.