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Re: Clean Water, Safe Fish Project, FYI and comment


                        Table of Contents

     I.   THE PROBLEM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

     II.  OUR RESPONSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

     III. GOAL AND OBJECTIVES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

     IV.  WORKPLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

     V.   PROJECT TIMELINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

     VI.  POPULATION SERVED BY THE PROJECT . . . . . . . . . . .9

     VII. EVALUATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

                        THE SIERRA CLUB FOUNDATION


Over the last 25 years, we have made much progress in cleaning up
toxic pollution in the Great Lakes. According to an EPA report, PCB
levels in Lake Michigan lake trout are down by 90 percent thanks to
state and federal clean water laws. But this doesn't mean the fish
are safe to eat. In fact, these lake trout are still more than 100
times too contaminated to eat.

More than 5 million U.S. anglers and their families catch and eat
Great Lakes fish, according to a 1993 survey by the U.S. Public
Health Service and the Wisconsin Department of Public Health. The
survey showed that 50 percent of these anglers are not aware of
contaminated fish warnings. In particular, the survey revealed that
two out of three women anglers and four out of five minority group
anglers are not aware of fish advisories. 

This lack of awareness poses a huge threat to public health. The
cancer risk from eating polluted fish is almost 5,000 times higher
than the EPA's "safe level." Eating large amounts of contaminated
fish can increase a person's cancer risk to as high as 1-in-22. One
EPA study estimated 38,000 additional cancer cases from polluted
fish annually.

Despite the fact that all the Great Lakes as well as 27,000 inland
lakes in the Midwest have contaminated-fish advisories warning the
public that some fish are not safe to eat, at least 2.5 million
people eat Great Lakes fish each year without knowing the risk to
their own health or to the health of their children.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that
some children whose mothers ate several Lake Michigan fish meals a
month had six point lower IQ levels and were two years behind in
reading and math skills compared to children whose mothers did not
eat Lake Michigan fish. There are also indications of increased
birth defects in infants born to these women.  

In spite of our progress to clean up the Great Lakes, the region's
states lead the nation in the legal dumping of cancer-causing and
hormone-disrupting chemicals and are second in dumping birth
defect-causing chemicals. According to the polluters' own reports,
each year more than 500 million pounds of toxic chemicals are dumped
into the water or released into the air of Great Lakes states. 
According to 1995 Toxic Release Inventory, this includes 135 million
pounds of cancer- and birth defect- causing and hormone-disrupting

To achieve the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement's goal of virtual
elimination of toxic substances, we must educate the public about
this continuing pollution problem, and urge policy makers to develop
plans to clean up the Great Lakes.


Through the Clean Water, Safe Fish Project, the Sierra Club will
educate the public particularly women and minority groups about the
risks associated with eating contaminated fish caught in the Great
Lakes and inland waters. 

The Clean Water, Safe Fish Project will also work to put plans in
place to make Great Lakes waters safe for fishing. For example, the
Great Lakes Critical Programs Act requires that all states adopt
uniform fish warnings to help protect public health. The Sierra
Club's recent report, "Something's Fishy" revealed that most states
are adopting the protocol for a Uniform Great Lakes Sport Fish
Consumption Advisory, except for Michigan and Ohio, which have
adopted advisories that are less protective of public health. Some
states, like Illinois, only apply the more protective standard to
the Great Lakes, not to inland waters. The Club will work to get
these states to apply protective standards to all waters, not just
the Great Lakes.

Because the current clean-water regulatory environment is focused on
risk assessment, we will use the findings of state and federal
survey on fish advisories and risk figures to educate policy makers
about the economic costs of water pollution and threats to human
health from eating contaminated fish. We will urge them to take
action to improve water quality and to do a more effective job of
warning anglers about the dangers of eating contaminated fish. For
example, warnings should be published in the front of fishing guides
rather than in the back as is currently the case.

With states just enacting the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative
and several considering the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) process,
the Sierra Club has an excellent opportunity to clean up the worst
sources of fish contamination toxic sediments and toxic air
pollution. TMDLs are required by the Clean Water Act, section
303(d), and are used to determine how much pollution a stream can
bear and still support fish that are safe to eat and meet other
water quality goals. Also, the Lakewide Area Management Plans
(LAMPS), which will be available in 1998, will give us more and
better information about sources of toxic pollution and how to clean
it up.

States are currently failing to enforce clean water regulations
despite public support for these protections. To reverse this trend,
we must draw the public's attention to this problem and highlight
specific, local water-quality health threats. Contaminated fish and
the threat they pose to human health are an excellent example of an
urgent health risk, one that we know will catch on quickly with the
public and get policy makers to make progress in cleaning up the
Great Lakes..

Last spring in Green Bay, Wisconsin, we tested response to our
"Protect your kids, release your catch" poster. After we distributed
the poster to the public, policy makers, and the media, the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story on our efforts to clean
up the Great Lakes. Also, we received extensive coverage for our
"Something's Fishy" report from the TV, radio, and newspapers in
Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Also, local community and
environmental groups throughout the Great Lakes have expressed
excitement about how our Clean Water, Safe Fish Project will help
them in their efforts to highlight local water pollution problems.


The goal of the Sierra Club's Clean Water, Safe Fish Project is to
protect human health by improving water quality in the Great Lakes
and the Midwest's inland lakes and rivers. To achieve this goal, the
Club will:

     *    Educate people, especially those most at risk (children,
          mothers, and minorities) about the dangers of eating
          polluted fish caught in the Great Lakes and in Midwest

     *    Educate the public, media, and policy-makers about the
          steps they can take to clean up polluted waters so that
          fish are safe to eat;

     *    Work with the EPA and Great Lakes states to draft and
          implement a plan to make the Great Lakes and Midwest
          waters safe for fishing within five years;

     *    Mobilize citizens and build grassroots support for clean
          water policies and for making lakes, rivers, and streams
          safe for fish by developing a strong message about the
          risks of eating contaminated fish, and educating people
          about the sources of Great Lakes pollution;

     *    Inform the public about the steps that Great Lakes states
          and the EPA can take to reduce pollution in our lakes,
          rivers, and streams; and

     *    Prepare reports on common-sense solutions to such water
          pollution problems as contaminated sediments, lagging
          clean-water rule enforcement, and toxic air pollution
          - and distribute them to the public, policy makers, and
          the media.


A. Strategy

The Clean Water, Safe Fish Project will focus on strategic Great
Lakes states where the Sierra Club has the greatest opportunity to
promote clean water policies. These states are Wisconsin, Michigan,
Ohio, and Illinois. We selected Ohio and Michigan because neither
state is following the Uniform Advisory Protocol; Illinois because
of the need to enforce policies meant to prevent water pollution;
and Wisconsin because of the progress being made to clean up the Fox
River and because of the state's leadership on Total Maximum Daily
Load issues.

We will work with members of affiliated groups such as Great Lakes
United, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Conservation
Summit, Clean Water Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, Bass
Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS), Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton
League, and state-level groups to organize state-level meetings,
target activist mailings on critical clean water issues, and
identify additional media markets within these states such as Grand
Rapids and Saginaw in Michigan.

In addition, we will work with a broad alliance of  community groups
to meet our objectives. For example, in Detroit we will work with
Detroiters for Environmental Justice, Arab Community Center for
Economic and Social Service, Native American Health Service, and
Downriver Detroit Citizens.

B. Staffing

The Sierra Club will employ organizers in Detroit, Michigan;
Chicago, Illinois; and Cleveland, Ohio. All will have strong links
to, and experience with, the local community and environmental
groups that the project is targeting. The Club will also hire a
media specialist in Madison, Wisconsin. Project staff  will report
to and be supervised by the Director of the Great Lakes Program,
Brett Hulsey. 

A staff person on our Environmental Quality Team in Washington,
D.C., will birddog the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food
and Drug Administration on polluted fish advisories, pulp and paper
rule, Great Waters and sediment cleanup, and other water pollution-control
ams that can contribute to safer fish. A D.C. media
staffer will collect stories about polluted fish advisories and be
responsible for placing these stories in the national print and
electronic media.

C. Media Campaign 

1. Message Development 

In Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin, the Sierra Club will
work with local community groups, grassroots activists, scientists,
state and local health departments, and fishing groups to develop a
clean water, safe fish message. The Club will hold two educational,
"Sound Science" conferences in Detroit and Chicago to bring
clean-water and community groups from all four targeted states
together to develop a compelling clean water, safe fish message and
to draw up a one-year workplan for communicating this message to the
public and the media. We anticipate that the message will be similar
to our "Protect your health, release your catch" slogan that we
tested in Green Bay, and which met with positive media response. 

In addition to developing one overall message, we will also develop
submessages for each state that are tied to local opportunities and
issues. Our strategy seeks to educate people about the condition of
their neighboring rivers, lakes, and streams, the identities of
major polluters of those waters, and the steps they as citizens can
take to protect and improve local water quality. Our experience has
taught us that one of the best ways to make a message on the
environment resonate with the public is to localize the message.  

To help develop the most effective message possible, we will use
existing polling and message consultation data from the Biodiversity
Project, Environmental Protection Agency, and other groups and
organizations. We will also hire Belden and Rusonnello the pollsters
who worked with us and other environmental groups to develop
effective public messages on Great Lakes and biodiversity issues to
attend these sessions and give us guidance on message development
and strategy.  We will also hire SUSTAIN, a media consulting firm in
Chicago, to help us prepare materials and fish-warning posters, and
to identify and place media stories in regional and national press.

2.  Activities

To alert the public, in particular women and minority groups, about
the dangers of eating contaminated fish caught in the Great Lakes
and in inland lakes, the Sierra Club will:

     *    Build on the success of the "Something's Fishy" report we
          released last year by producing and distributing a new
          report, "Something's Still Fishy."  We will release the
          report when the fishing season opens in the spring. Its
          release should garner TV, newspaper, and radio coverage,
          thereby educating the public about water pollution
          problems in the four targeted states. This and our other
          reports will stress common-sense solutions for sediments
          clean-up and pollution prevention.  

     *    Work in coalition with other environmental and community
          groups to distribute Safe Fish fact sheets to group
          members in targeted areas to educate them about the risks
          associated with eating contaminated fish and about the
          need for key policy makers to develop clean-up plans for
          the Great Lakes.

     *    Post 10 popular fishing areas in Chicago, Detroit.
          Cleveland, and Milwaukee with "Protect your health,
          release your catch" posters at the beginning of the
          fishing season to draw public and media attention to the
          problem of contaminated fish.

     *    Conduct media tours in key media markets (Chicago,
          Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee) to highlight local
          water pollution problems and the steps necessary to clean
          them up. For example, in Detroit, we will focus on the
          need to clean up the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant
          and the Detroit River. Also, we will work with other
          groups to hold media tours in secondary media markets
          such as Grand Rapids and Green Bay.

     *    Send two mailings to 50 reporters who cover the
          environment, women's issues, health and sports in primary
          Great Lakes and Midwest media markets. We will include
          "Something's Fishy" and "Something's Still Fishy" as well
          as other materials to educate them about the risks of
          eating polluted fish, what people can do to lower that
          risk, and what can be done to clean up the pollution.

     *    Run 500 to 1,000 paid television ads in Detroit, Chicago,
          Milwaukee, and Cleveland when the fishing season opens in
          the spring to raise the level of public concern about the
          fish pollution issue, encourage fishing families to read
          the advisories, and push policy-makers for cleaner water
          and safer fish. We will work with TV personalities Tony
          Dean or Joe Buecher and the National Wildlife Federation
          to craft two to three 60-second spots targeting women,
          minorities, and anglers. In addition, we will also buy a
          limited amount of cable TV time during fishing shows, and
          also release these ads at press conferences to get the
          maximum exposure from earned media.
     *    Post polluted waters for the fall steelhead and salmon
          runs on the Root, Fox, and Sheyboyugan rivers in
          Wisconsin; and the Grand, Saginaw, and Big Sable rivers
          in Michigan.

3.  Policy Documents 

To help improve water quality in the Great Lakes, the Clean Water,
Safe Fish Project will develop policy documents for community groups
and activists to release in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and
Madison, and to distribute to the media, policy makers, and local

To ensure that our information is based on sound science, we will
convene a Sound Science Advisory Group made up of key fish
researchers and Great Lakes health researchers such as Dr. John Vena
of the State University of New York at Buffalo; Dr. Henry Anderson
of the Wisconsin Department of Public Health; Dr. Heraline Hicks of
the U.S. Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and
Disease Registry; Dr. Harold Humphreys, formerly with the Michigan
Department of Community Health; Dr. Peter Orris of the University of
Illinois, Chicago; Dr. Andrew McBride, with the National Association
of City and County Health Officials and National Association of
Physicians and the Environment; University of Wisconsin
Communications Professor Sharon Dunwoody; Bill Peterson, Director,
Chicago State University Neighborhood Assistance; and local public
health officials.

We will convene this group at our Detroit and Chicago conferences
and consult with them through four quarterly conference calls to
ensure that our documents and recommendations are based on sound
science and good public policy.

We will also retain a toxicologist to analyze state rules and
provide recommendations for state fish advisories and water

The Clean Water, Safe Fish Project will produce the following

     *    A "Clean Water, Safe Fish Scorecard" that compares
          programs in our four targeted states designed to educate
          the public about contaminated fish and to solve water
          pollution problems. Also, the Scorecard will describe how
          Clean Water laws should be implemented and enforced in
          order to better protect the public from the dangers
          associated with eating fish caught in the Great Lakes. We
          will release the Scorecard at a press conference in the
          fall of 1998 to build public pressure for water pollution
          clean-up, and we will distribute it to the media, Great
          Lakes activists, and environmental and community groups.
          The Scorecard will also be posted on our website.

     *    A "Something's Still Fishy" report to be released in the
          spring to remind anglers of the dangers of eating
          polluted fish and comparing various state-and-national
          clean-water efforts that would help make fish safe to
          eat. One-hundred copies will be printed.

     *    Short, state-specific reports about the need for
          safe-fish standards, water anti-degradation policies, and
          TMDLs for state waters. Fifty copies of each report will
          be printed, more as needed.

4. Community Education and Mobilization 

  Outreach to Fishing Families
  The Clean Water, Safe Fish Project will identify key public
  education opportunities, such as church group meetings and
  fishing tournaments, to educate fishing families about the risks
  of eating contaminated fish and what citizens can do to help
  clean up water pollution. 
  Our goal is to get fishing families in each of our targeted
  states to send a total of 10,000 postcards to their governor and
  Department of Natural Resources urging water clean-up action.
  Postcards to the governors will be mailed to our address. We will
  collect them and present them to the governors at well-publicized
  events. This campaign will help build public pressure for needed
  change, and help build our data base for future Great Lakes
  education efforts.
  A recent EPA survey revealed that the typical angler has a high
  school education, and that women in fishing families tend not to
  discuss fish pollution with their family members. This
  underscores the need for a clear, scientifically-sound message on
  the dangers of eating contaminated fish. We will encourage