As I sit near the bank of the La Salle River, I smile as I see two people paddle by in a canoe.
I wave and they smile as they wave back, clearly enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds them. A loud smack of a beaver’s tail can be heard in the distance as it warns its fellow beavers of the oncoming canoe. Occasionally I see a deer come to the water for a drink and see a fish jump leaving circular ripples on the waters surface.
I think to myself, "How lucky am I? I get to live near such beauty!"
However, as I travel down the river on some occasions, I see things that are so disappointing they lead me to believe that not everyone shares my love of our water. Travelling west along the river I pass by an old bathtub partially submerged in the water. I see the occasional tin can floating by. As I continue I see a large algae bloom and soon discover the source. A homeowner with the most pristine of lawns has been dumping lawn clippings into the river. Clumps of grass float on the surface of the slow-moving river, a green scum surrounding them.
Throwing inorganic material into the waterways should be a no-brainer — don’t do it.
As for organic materials such as yard waste or food waste, you may think, "It’s all good. Organic stuff will just biodegrade. No harm done, right?"
Wrong! High levels of nutrients provided by organic waste feed the aquatic plants and algae causing them to grow too much. This overgrowth causes oxygen depletion in the water which in turn negatively impacts the health of fish and other organisms. The overgrowth of algae will also cause unsightly scum and a foul odour.
Think since you don’t live next to the river you are not having an effect on its health?
Wrong again! If you live in a town, rain water running off your roof and pavement will make its way into storm drains which typically return the water to a river. Any contaminants that are picked up from your driveway or lawn are carried into these drainage systems. Pollutants from farms are washed into ditches and carried to the rivers.
Some interesting facts from Environment Canada:
• One drop of oil can render up to 25 litres of water unfit for drinking.
• One gram of 2,4-D (a common household herbicide) can contaminate ten million litres of drinking water.
If you live in The Headliner area, your drinking water comes from the La Salle and Assiniboine Rivers. Fortunately we have effective water treatment facilities and our drinking water is safe. We need to take care not to jeopardize this by making efforts to reduce water pollution.
Here’s how you can help:
• Don’t throw organic or inorganic waste into the rivers
• Reduce chemical use in your yard and garden
• Avoid spilling items such as gas and oil on driveways and streets
• Use environmentally friendly cleaning products for cleaning driveways
If we all do our part we will continue to have a beautiful place for recreation, a healthy environment for fish and wildlife and a great source of safe drinking water for years to come.
Camille Meub is a La Salle-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Headliner area and would like to contribute to this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.