Photo: Prevent water pollution at home

Stop water pollution in its tracks when you start to protect water quality at home. (Credit: Craig Jewell via Flickr)

It's Canada Water Week! With spring melt around the corner, it's a great time to do your part to improve drinking water quality and eliminate sources of pollutants leaving your home. (And you thought I was going to tell you to turn off the tap while you brush...still a good idea!)

When rain and snowmelt leave your backyard, sidewalk, or driveway they pick up any contaminants or pollutants in their path. Since about 80 per cent of Canadians live in cities, our urban runoff can negatively affect water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and human health. But it doesn't have to.

Reduce contaminants leaving your yard

Common contaminants are oil and grease from cars, de-icing salts used on sidewalks, or pesticides for lawn and garden care. Each of these eventually makes their way to sewers, drainage channels, and streams. Stop pollution in its tracks:

  1. Maintain your car — check for oil leaks before they start
  2. Avoid de-icing salts — shovel often and early
  3. Garden pesticide-free

Plant a rain garden

Maybe you've already set up a rain barrel or planted native species. How about a rain garden? They can help minimize the problem of storm water runoff — hundreds of litres of rainwater streaming off hard surfaces like roofs, roads, and driveways. For example, shallow beds six- to 12-inches (15- to 30-centimetres) deep filled with native plants will filter up to 90 per cent of pollutants. Rain gardens also allow water to drain deep enough into the soil to help recharge groundwater supplies. Find more tips to design your very own rain garden.

Dispose of medications safely

Spring cleaning isn't just about mucking out gutters or washing windows. De-clutter your medicine cabinet, but never flush old medications down the toilet or throw them in the garbage. The safest way to dispose of expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter health care products is to take them back to your local pharmacy (or vet clinic if you have pet medications). Proper disposal not only eliminates the risk of an accidental poisoning in your home, it keeps our oceans and landfills free of pollution.

How will you celebrate Canada Water Week?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

March 16, 2011

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Jun 14, 2017
11:52 AM

I think that water pollution is a big deal in china!

Apr 06, 2017
9:49 AM

I live in a Townhouse Condo complex and the Board makes all the decisions. Is there a presentation that can be used to get them on board for a Rain Garden? We have multiple parking lots and drainage wells, but if we could have gardens along the sidewalks that would reduce run off that might be a good way to help? Thank you,

Mar 17, 2011
2:23 PM

Thank you for this article, and please keep it coming! With the global crisis we are currently facing I am continually bombarded by some of the most depressing information that has ever reached me. The problem isn’t in the information, the problem is that I am just one person wanting to overhaul the entire American infrastructure. Not possible. I know, but am none the less stressed right out over these global issues that we the people have no other choice but to leave it in the supposedly capable hands of politicians. I want to know why I am thinking the word DIG will be the last thing we will be told at the inevitable onset of the next ice-age. In other words, it worked. I’m terrified by what living my life will cost my beloved ecosystem and earth. I need you to know that we all need information, and it needs to be thrown in our faces, the same thing they did with our A B C’s K? We need help to begin making these changes that I can’t possibly be alone in wanting to begin making. When? Now is good. Thank you Lindsay Coulter and special thanks to our hero David Suzuki for paving the road I and so many others will wholeheartedly travel.

Sincerely Frightened and Genuinely Optimistic, Shannon A. Rousseau
Mar 15, 2011
7:19 PM

hey Lindsay,

great ideas Lindsay! I didn’t even know you were the queen of green, but i’m happy to learn that you are. and you’ll be happy to know that midland is finally staring a community gardens group, with the focus on growing together and sharing the harvest. if you have any tips for us i’d be grateful for them.

peace, love and gratitude, Laura Jane xoxo

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