Have you noticed any of these yellow fish in your neighbourhood? Wonder what they mean?
The Yellow Fish program is an educational program that teaches about waste water and the impact it can have on our rivers and lakes. The young people spray paint the fish on the curbs above the grates and distribute flyers in the immediate neighbourhood. By involving youth groups and classrooms in this initiative we are encouraging them to take a greater part in the protection of their future water reserves and educating them to the risks of taking water for granted.
Storm drains are not usually connected to the city sewer system and tend to drain directly into local rivers and streams. The water that enters these sewers is not treated at all. Anything that enters the storm sewer is dumped directly into our surface water.
Rainwater, when falling on urban areas, can absorb heat from the rooftops, sidewalks and roadways. This can raise the temperature of our waterways causing stress or even death to fish who are cold-water adapted.
When it rains, the run off washes all the debris, including any litter or garbage, from driveways, sidewalks and roadways directly into the storm sewer. This can lead to clogging of the drain and flooding of roads and even houses.
If you wash your car in your driveway, all the soap run-off enters the storm sewer. This can carry harmful phosphates into the streams and rivers which impact the eco-system in a negative manner. They encourage the growth of algae and can lead to the de-oxygenation of the water.
A car wash is a much more environmentally friendly option. Car washes are hooked up to the sewage system so their waste water goes through the municipal water treatment plant and these harmful elements are removed.
Road salt can also be an issue. When the snow melts the run-off carries this salt into our rivers and lakes.
If pools are drained into storm drains the chlorine and other chemicals go into our streams and can kill the animal life who call it home.
A lack of car maintenance can lead to fluid leaks. All these fluids, which are hazardous to our ecosystem, usually find their way into our waterways in storm runoff. One drop of oil can make 25 litres of water undrinkable.
Bleaches, cleaners and other household chemicals should never be poured down the storm drain but rather taken to a local hazardous waste disposal site.
Fertilizers can cause de-oxygenation of our surface waters and pesticides are fatal to many smaller residents in our lakes.
The pollution of our lakes can impact the recreational activities available. Beaches can be closed due to poor water quality. Boating and fishing activities are halted until water is safe. Chemicals in the water can be fatal to fish or make them unsafe to eat.
The little yellow fish is a reminder to all of us to safeguard our waterways. Canadian children all across the country are doing their part to highlight this issue and bring relevant information to all residents of the neighbourhoods directly impacted by their work. Be diligent in disposing of waste safely. Be mindful of what we put on our lawns and gardens or spill on our driveways that may be subject to run off.
Clean water is something we take for granted a lot of the time but it is, in reality, very fragile and we must protect it. Water is vital to our way of life.