By Mike Kruzman /

A webinar hosted by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments explored safety and accessibility measures for enjoying lakes and rivers in their 7 county region and across Michigan.

SEMCOG, this week, held the second event in their online One Water Summer Series, titled Recreating Safely with our Water Resources. Several special guests took part to help educate residents on how to safely and responsibly be good stewards of Michigan’s water, and to inform on the ways they are making that water available to more people.

Sheri Faust, President of the Friends of the St. Clair River kicked off the event helping viewers understand more about marine law, how E.coli contaminates beaches, and the dangers of invasive species. Faust also talked about lifejacket rules and how to best help someone who may be struggling or drowning, through the phrase “Reach or throw, don’t go…” She said that means if someone is the water needs assistance, the very last thing you want to do is actually go in after them. Reach with a hand, pole, or throw a lifejacket. If you do go in, make sure you have a lifejacket on yourself first before assisting anyone, even your child.

Next up, Amy McMillan, Director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks shared how they are trying to systemically address accessibility through their 13-park system and beyond. She talked about their partnership with the City of Detroit and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to provide complete swim lessons to 500 children . McMillan said people of color are more likely to drown or be injured in the water due to a lack of access to water safety programs. Teaching kids to swim, she said, is a life skill that once learned, will be with a person their whole life.

Representatives from the Huron River Watershed Council, the Clinton River Watershed Council, and Friends of the Rouge River also presented. They shared, among other efforts, progress made on accessible boat and kayak launches that allow more people than ever to get out on the rivers.

The entire webinar can be found on SEMCOG’s Facebook page, or through the link below.