Did you know that stormwater runoff is the #1 source of pollution in Canada? When rain or snowmelt passes over roads, parking lots, driveways and other paved surfaces, it picks up oils, pesticides, solvents, chemicals and sediment. The runoff carries the gross stuff you see (and don’t see) right down the drain and into our bays, harbours, rivers and streams.
Stormwater run-off can be harmful to fish, wildlife, humans and the ecosystem as a whole. Fish kills, toxic algae blooms and rivers choked with mud all result from uncontrolled stormwater runoff. One out of five people that go to the beach each year will find it closed to swimming due to some from of pollution, and roughly 100,000 Canadians will become ill or develop a rash after swimming in polluted waters.
What can you do at home to reduce the effects of stormwater pollution in your favourite waterways?
Here are a few simple tips:
- Plant a garden - with so many surfaces in the city covered with concrete and asphalt it is important that we create permeable surfaces where we can! Gardens and permeable pavements allow the rain and snowmelt to soak into the ground reducing the water flow into our stormwater drains.
- Reduce the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that you use in your yard - these chemicals can wash off and pollute our waterways
- Remove any debris or garbage from your yard or driveway, especially around the storm-drain - large pieces of trash or debris can clog the system and can also pose risks to wildlife who may ingest or get entangled in the trash.
- Pick-up and dispose of pet waste properly - If it is not disposed of properly it bring excess nutrients and bacteria into our waterways decreasing the quality of our water.
- Dispose of chemicals, soaps, paints, etc properly - anything left on the pavement can be washed down our drains into our waterways, yuck!
- Fix that leak - if you have a leak in your car, fix it!
In Vancouver we get an average of 1457 mm (almost 5 feet!) of rain each year so it's important that we are aware and working together to reduce the effects of stormwater runoff on our waterways.