What is the first thing you think of when you think of Lake Erie? Walleye, Cedar Point, Cleveland— there are a million possible things that come to mind when thinking of Lake Erie, the smallest, but most biologically productive of the Great Lakes.
At Freshwater Future when we think of Lake Erie the first thing that comes to our minds is Sandy Bihn. Sandy has been involved in protecting Lake Erie and Maumee Bay through her work with the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association since 1990.
Over that time, no single individual has done more to improve and protect the water quality in western Lake Erie. Freshwater Future is pleased to award the 2010 Grassroots Citizen Advocate Award to Sandy Bihn for her dedication and work to protect Lake Erie.
Sandy is not your typical advocate working to protect water quality in her community. Her accounting background and role as a City Council member often keeps her focused on the numbers. When working to address the fish kills from power plant intakes, Sandy focused on the economic impact of the fish kills by hiring an economist and scientists to look at the impacts. The results of this study are now manifesting in modified permits for the power plants. She often asks the tough questions and is not afraid to broach the topics that need to be addressed. This practicality has gotten her far—helping to improve regulations of power plants and reducing pollution to the rivers and Lake Erie from wastewater treatment plants and industry.
Sandy is also Lake Erie’s biggest cheerleader. A typical conversation with Sandy may focus on algae or fish kills that threaten the health of the Lake, but she will always bring the conversation around to discussing what an amazing resource Lake Erie is. Sandy loves to get out on Maumee Bay in her personal watercraft and to get others to join her to float down the Maumee River. Sandy also shares her expertise to help the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Society.
We know that there are many challenges facing Lake Erie, but with Sandy Bihn fighting for the Lake, we are confident that Lake Erie will win the battles it faces, and all of us will benefit. Thanks Sandy for all that you do.