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Write Way Communications
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Five things you can do for rivers, lakes and streams


On a “5 Things” bus tour of Collingwood guided by Michele Rich of the Environment Network, and Beth Anne Burnie of RiverSides– a non-profit organization in Toronto that focuses on watershed protection– I discovered that our town is doing a great deal to manage storm water runoff and reduce drainage into our municipality.

Well-planned water management is good for farmers, good for the environment and good for all of us.

We already know many of the ingredients to make this happen; the big question is, how do we make this happen with increased development?

Remember that what you do in and around your home directly connects to your river, lakes and streams. Stop runoff, go toxin-free, use less water, naturalize, and get involved; these steps are only “5 Things” that you can do at home.

Be an integral part of the process of protecting our drinking water sources, and we will provide a cleaner and healthier future for our children and generations to come.

RiverSides has created a project that focuses on “5 Things That You Can do For Your Rivers, Lakes and Streams.” Implemented in 2009, this project is focusing on actions that you can do at home to prevent stormwater run-off and pollution and ways to improve the quality of water that eventually reaches Georgian Bay.

If we continue to follow the current trend, by the year 2025, two-thirds of the people in this world will not have sufficient access to clean water.

During the tour, we were shown different projects that manage municipal storm water at a few facilities throughout our town. Who knew that storm water could be so interesting?

The largest facility was at a newer 60 acre subdivision at the south end of Peel Street, and what became abundantly clear was the fact that the engineers and planners got creative to trap the run-off.

This is a fairly new subdivision that was designed to collect storm water in a pond that is adjacent to a park. This facility stores storm water from around the 183 houses in a large pond.

It was quite scenic with active bird life, and native grasses and trees.

Another facility much the same as the first project is at High and Sixth Street in Collingwood, and stores water from 130 houses and adjacent parking lots.

These ponds help to manage the strain on municipal storm water that makes its way to the waste treatment plant on Birch Street. They also provide opportunities for active transportation, habitat and beauty.

The Black Ash Creek channelization project was designed to provide relief from flooding. Engineered channelization occurs with the idea of giving a stream a sufficiently large and deep channel so that flooding beyond those limits will be minimal.

In other words: designed for the 100-year storm, and engineered for a more naturalized state. You will notice this creek behind the mall in Collingwood.

Actions that our municipality is taking to directly improve the quality of water run-off include salt management. Salt might not seem like much of a management issue for our water, but what ends up on our roads, ends up in our water.

The new storage facility on the 10th Line in Collingwood is now covered to prevent leaching and run-off. In addition, the public works department uses a lower percentage of salt in the mixture due to better coverage; the percentage is seven-to-eight per cent salt instead of the 10 per cent which was used in the past.

We also saw how design and technology have improved over the years.

Fisher Field is another area that we looked at. This pesticide-free soccer-pitch was planned to promote run-off into a pond that settles out the impurities, naturally.

As well, certain native plants, shrubs and trees have been planted.

Pesticide use has caused much damage and we can now be proud to have a pesticide-free by-law in Collingwood. All municipally-owned land is pesticide free!

All of these things improve the quality of storm water run-off and thereby, the quality of water that we drink.

Links for more information:,,

For more information on environmental issues, contact the Environment Network at 446-0551, or visit their website at



About the author

Melanie Vollick


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