The Coves Subwatershed is a series of ponds and ravines located in the heart of London, Ontario. Most of the area that drains into the Coves ponds is privately owned, so residents and businesses can have a dramatic impact on the health of the Coves ponds. The Friends of the Coves Subwatershed Inc. (FOTCSI), one of Ontario Nature’s 140 member groups, works with the community to ensure that the impact is a positive one. We do this by involving the community in programs and activities that promote sound ecological practices in the home and the neighborhood. An example is the Storm Drain Marking Program, where the schools of the Coves Subwatershed raise awareness about the need to properly dispose of household wastes.
The Friends of the Coves have carried out a series of in-class activities to help students understand how fish, wildlife and downstream drinking water are affected when household wastes such as used oils, chemical garden fertilizers, chlorinated pool water, paint and soap from car washes enter our urban storm drains. A watershed model helps demonstrate that each time it rains, stormwater runoff carries street litter and other contaminants into storm drains. Pollutants that make their way into roadside storm drains remain untreated and go directly into the Coves ponds, which lead to the Thames River and ultimately to the Great Lakes. London obtains its drinking water from both Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
After learning how to correctly dispose of hazardous waste and other materials, the students take their message to the streets. They paint yellow fish symbols beside roadside storm grates and distribute fish-shaped brochures to nearby households. The FOTCSI follows the Yellow Fish Road™ program, which is a nation-wide environmental education initiative led by Trout Unlimited Canada. Since 1991, thousands of Canadian youth have learned about their water supplies and the impact those waters have on the health of their communities.
FOTCSI gratefully acknowledges funding for this project provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and our partners – the City of London and Trout Unlimited Canada. The City of London is considering expanding the storm-drain marking program city-wide.
For more information on the program,
contact the Friends of the Coves Subwatershed Inc. at 519-640-5397 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
contributed by Mary-Pat Mathers, Friends of the Coves Subwatershed.