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:
- Maintain your car — check for oil leaks before they start
- Avoid de-icing salts — shovel often and early
- 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