We are what we… drink?
The city of Campbell River is focusing on public education about the importance of watershed protection for the month of August, with two days of activities to get the public involved.
Luisa Richardson, an environmental educator working for the city, is busy informing the public by writing pieces in both local newspapers, advertising, doing interviews on both radio stations, and taking people on tours of the watershed. So far, she said her efforts have been working.
“It’s good. It’s opening up conversation,” explained Richardson. “Once we can start talking about [the issues], we can start talking about solutions.”
The first public event is the second annual, Waterfest: good clean fun at McIvor Lake, taking place from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 20. Free buses will be shuttling between the Campbell River Community Centre and the lake.
Free activities include: River Spirit Dragon Boat rides, kayak demos, zumba lessons, snorkeling for treasure, a Bounce-A-Rama, games for youth by Active Campbell River, and a learn to dive demo which must be pre-registered for. A BC Hydro information booth and a watershed protection booth will also be set up.
“It’s about attracting people to come out to this event, and celebrating our very high quality drinking water, while still having fun in ways that don’t pollute or compromise the quality of the water,” explained Richardson.
Although the city’s water quality is very good right now, illegal dumping of household garbage and yard waste is a continuing problem, which Richardson said she worries will grow as the population does if things don’t change.
When garbage is dumped near the watershed, chemicals leech into the water supply. Dumping yard waste in the forest is also detrimental, as it leeches nitrogen into the water supply, as well as bringing invasive species of plants into the area.
“We’re very concerned about the degree of dumping,” said Richardson.
Also, driving vehicles in the area generates dust, and if too much dust gets into the water supply, solid particle build-up could force the city to change its filtration system to a more expensive model, according to Richardson. Richardson’s main point is that illegal dumping of anything in the watershed area needs to stop.
“We plan to use education and action to limit and eliminate those activities in the future.”
For the first time ever, the public is invited to join the city’s efforts on Watershed Clean-up-day. Crews will clean up illegally dumped garbage from the John Hart watershed and McIvor Lake from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 27.
Garbage bags, gloves, shovels, and rakes will be provided, as well as lunch. People interested in helping with the effort can call the City of Campbell River water hotline at 250-203-2316 for details and to register.
“It will be very exciting,” said Richardson. “There’s a lot of people who care, a lot of people who are shocked when they see garbage thrown out in nature, and so we think that many people will be happy to do something about it.”
After Watershed Clean-up-day the city will move in with machinery to clean up garbage that is too heavy to move by hand. The area will be monitored for illegal dumpers, and violators will be fined.
“Our water is in very good shape,” said Richardson. “We just want to make sure we keep it that way.”