New Edmonton program aims to reduce chemicals getting into North Saskatchewan River

The City of Edmonton has launched a new program to reduce the amount household chemicals going into the North Saskatchewan River, Thursday, July 21, 2016. Charles Taylor, Global News

The City of Edmonton has launched a new program to reduce the amount of chemicals going into the North Saskatchewan River.

Runoff that’s not treated can harm plants and fish when it flows through the drainage system and into the river. In an effort to stop the threat to the river, the city’s River for Life campaign asks Edmontonians to eliminate common chemical items found in the household from getting into the catch basin.

Residents are being asked to take vehicles to a car wash instead of washing them on driveways, avoid excessive lawn fertilizer, and properly dispose of paint, oil, RV tanks and chemicals.

“Edmontonians are fertilizing improperly, they’re washing their cars in the driveway and sometimes even dumping other paints…and paint into the catch basin,” drainage engineer Kerri Robinson said.

“So we’re asking them to fertilize appropriately, go to a car wash and not dump anything down the catch basin.”

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Chemicals used outdoors go into the catch basin, which is connected to the river. The catch basin is connected to the North Saskatchewan River, so any runoff ends up in the river.

“It doesn’t necessarily get treated and certainly not to the level the treatment plant treats it,” Robinson said.

Robinson added the city has taken steps to improve the river’s water quality by upgrading the water treatment plants and dealing with combined sewers. Now, she said, it’s time for residents to do their part.

“The city is really committed to the environmental aspect of our river and our ecosystems, and it’s all of our responsibility to ensure the water quality is preserved,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the city conducted monitoring at outfalls as well as a pre-campaign survey to evaluate people’s perceptions and actions. It will do a similar survey after the campaign concludes.




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