Organizations team up in new water improvement campaign

Sweet Water, the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, and Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network have teamed up to launch Respect Our Waters, a multi-year marketing initiative to educate area residents on actions they can take to improve rivers and the lake in the region.

“The launch of this campaign is exciting because it represents two water groups and 28 communities that have banded together for a common cause,” said Jeff Martinka, executive director of Sweet Water. “Due to this spirit of cooperation and the pooling of resources, we’re able to have a bigger impact than we could ever accomplish separately.”
Jeff Casario, a Kenosha native and emmy award winning standup comedian, will be the voice of Sparkles, the water spaniel puppet featured throughout the campaign.
In four, 30-second television spots, Sparkles focuses his attention on the importance of picking up yard debris, cleaning up dog poop, using lawn fertilizer and chemicals responsibly and preventing oil and fluids from leaking from cars.
“It’s important for southeastern Wisconsin residents to understand that their actions directly impact the quality of our rivers and Lake Michigan,” said Susan Greenfield, executive director of Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network. “The TV spots use humor to emphasize how we should change our behaviors to benefit the waterways.”
Cesario has won two Emmys and appeared on the “Tonight Show,” “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” The spots catch Sparkles as he drops in on area residents and trains the humans through various activities. All of the spots conclude with variations of “This is Sparkles the Water Spaniel, reminding you clean water is all about proper training.”
In addition to the television advertising, the two groups will be at more than 15 community events throughout southeastern Wisconsin to educate residents one-on-one. During those events, the groups will distribute 18,000 pet waste bags, provide native plants for rain gardens and give away rain barrels and Milorganite.
“What many residents don’t understand is that anything that washes into storm sewers goes directly into our area rivers and then into Lake Michigan,” said Greenfield. “That means, whenever it rains, dog poop, lawn fertilizer, grass, leaves, car fluids and any other debris on sidewalks, streets and parking lots flow into the waterways.”
The current campaign is funded by $125,000 in grants from 28 municipalities and the Wisconsin DNR. The total negotiated value of the year-one initiative is $250,000 in television advertising and creative development.

To view some of the television spots, visit the Respect Our Waters YouTube page.

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