Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Gala honors efforts to save waterways



The Blade/Lori King
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Last night was a time of celebration and transition for ongoing efforts to restore Toledo-area waterways.

The 20th anniversary of public-private efforts under the Maumee Remedial Action Plan, commonly known as the Maumee RAP, was the cause to celebrate.

Volunteers, public officials, and business representatives took time out for a special gala at Wildwood Metropark's Ward Pavilion.

Of the many awards and recognitions, the highest went to Sue Horvath - half of a tandem that state and federal regulators once viewed as "the voice of the Ottawa River," said Patrick Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence, a University of Toledo associate professor of geography and planning, is chairman of the Maumee RAP and a new nonprofit organization formed to carry out its mission, Partners for Clean Streams Inc.

Ms. Horvath, wife of oncologist Dr. William Horvath, assisted Betty Mauk in reforming the now-defunct ClearWater Inc. environmental group in 1989.

Ms. Horvath also was a member of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's environmental advisory board in the mid 1990s. Until recently, she was a trustee on the Metroparks of the Toledo Area board, a position she held for 13 years.

But she is best known in local environmental circles as the woman who, along with former Ottawa Hills activist June Brown, tirelessly dogged state and federal officials about toxic chemicals leaching out of several waterfront landfills along the Ottawa River.

Years of negotiations resulted in caps being installed over the former Stickney Avenue, Tyler Street, and Dura Avenue dumps between 1998 and 2001, along with a leachate extraction system at the former XXKem site. Companies that had owned or disposed of waste in those sites came up with the millions of dollars it took to do that work.

Ms. Brown relocated to Florida.

Ms. Horvath continued on as a crusader for Toledo-area streams, including Duck and Otter creeks.

Ms. Horvath, in accepting the special Maumee RAP award, said efforts to restore streams are "about treasuring and protecting our irreplaceable resource."

"What we're doing is creating a legacy for our community," she said.

In 2003, Ms. Horvath was bestowed with the state's highest honor for protecting Lake Erie, the Ohio Lake Erie Award.

She became involved with the Maumee RAP in October, 1987, when the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments called for an inventory and cleanup plan for area streams by the same name.

The RAP process was put into place across the Great Lakes region that fall by the International Joint Commission, a binational agency that has helped the United States and Canada resolve boundary water issues since 1909.

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