Leading the Storm Against Drain Pollution

Nothing exemplifies dedication more than waking up early Saturday morning to participate in some wholesome volunteering. Well that was the scene this weekend as Richmond’s Green Ambassadors, volunteers from high schools in Richmond BC, came out to paint yellow fish on storm drains while promoting awareness of polluting fish habitat in the Fraser River & Bath Slough. Led by the City of Richmond’s Sustainability Department, the students walked from drain-to-drain painting yellow salmon in order to remind the locals of the water wildlife that live within the waters connected to these drains and to reduce urban runoff. Although the weather was exhausting, the Green Ambassadors visited several neighbourhoods and caught the attention of local businesses and households.

City of Richmond’s Sustainability Department research intern, Andrew Weatherill, lays down fish stencils for the student volunteers to paint.

Bath Slough is a semi-natural waterway that flows directly into the Fraser River, which is a popular locale for salmon spawning.  The slough is an ecologically important natural area and a community asset for recreation, transportation, and green space in the Cambie neighbourhood. The slough and its adjacent riparian areas provide important biodiversity values and many ecosystem services. The City’s Department of Sustainability is setting out to assure Bath Slough is a prominent, healthy watercourse for wildlife future generations.

One of the highlights of our day was catching a business red-handed as they were blatantly washing down chemicals and waste into our next storm drain. Although this is the exact issue we are addressing, it was a great opportunity to show the students why we were in the blazing heat painting these yellow fish. It was heartwarming to see these kids – who were talking about the Olympics the entire day – shift gears and focus on the severity of this environmental issue. They truly got a grasp on the importance of environmental conservation, which I think is a fantastic message to send home.

Working with students is a great way to pass on environmental responsibility to future generations and the BCWF Wetlands Education Program is hosting two free camps in Barriere (August 6-10) and Oliver (August 13-17) for kids aged 9-12. If you would like more information, visit the BCWF Wetlands website here!

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