We are very fortunate to live in a community that enjoys the natural beauty and splendor of the internationally celebrated Rideau River. I was pleased to work with local volunteers and business leaders to protect the Rideau River and improve public access with new pathways, benches and pedestrian bridges. There are some simple things we can do as neighbours to help protect the Rideau River and its ecosystem.
Plant a tree. Trees help slow down rainwater, prevent runoff and absorb carbon dioxide. They also help keep your home cool in the summer and add to your property value. Visit your local nursery and ask about native trees.
Look out for litter. Plastic bags, papers and water bottles can end up polluting our river system.
Do not overuse fertilizer. Improper fertilizer use sends unhelpful nitrogen and phosphorus running into streams.
Do not wash your car in the driveway. If you can, move it into the grass so that soap, chemicals and excess water soak into the ground rather than going straight into storm drain. Or take it to a local car wash.
Pick up your dog’s waste. It is the law and pet waste contains bacteria and nitrogen that washes into rivers and creeks and harms swimmers and promotes algae growth.
Don’t dump oil, antifreeze and chemicals down the storm drains. Those drains eventually lead to the river and the water in them does not get treated. That is why you will often see a fish symbol on the stormwater covers, it is a signal that the water drains into our local river system. The City of Ottawa has regular hazardous waste collections. Visit www.ottawa.ca
Finally, keep in mind that regular maintenance on your vehicle will ensure a smooth running machine and reduce the amount of oil and other fluid leaks. These fluids and stains on the driveway can mix with rainwater and enter our water system.
You can also get involved with local groups such as the Rideau Valley conservation Foundation to help raise funds or plant trees. http://www.rvcf.ca/.
Let’s continue to enjoy and protect the Rideau River for future generations.
Steve Desroches is a former City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the City of Ottawa.