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The river is alive. You can keep it healthy.

You’re more connected to the river than you’d think. Everything outside your home drains into the North Saskatchewan River. The thing is, the river has a pretty restrictive diet — but it just can’t say no to what you feed it. Try these simple tips. The river will thank you.

Ways to help keep the river Healthy

Fertilizing and Watering

Pffft. Uh oh. That’s the river getting too much fertilizer in its system. Algae loves fertilizer—and too much algae destroys aquatic life.

So what should you do?

  • Use a slow-release natural fertilizer and make sure you don’t over-fertilize
  • Sweep fertilizer from walkways and driveways back onto your lawn
  • Water only when necessary and aim sprinklers away from paved surfaces
  • If you know it’s about to rain, hold off on fertilizing—otherwise it’ll wash off your lawn right into the river

What else can you do?

  • Mulch or compost yard waste. Don’t sweep debris into the gutter
  • Don’t over apply pesticides or use them right before it rains
  • Select plants and grasses that grow easily in Edmonton and require less water, fertilizers and pesticides
Washing Your Car

Bluurrp. Hear that? Soap doesn’t sit well with the river. Phosphates from cleaning products feed algae that kills plants and fish.

So what should you do?

  • If you choose to wash your car in the driveway, use non-phosphate, biodegradable detergents
  • Take your vehicle to a car wash—they recycle soapy water and dispose of it properly. That’s your best bet to keep the river healthy and happy

What else can you do?

  • Sweep up your driveway rather than hosing it down
  • Clean up after pets and dispose of waste in the garbage
  • Purchase a discounted car wash pass to help save money
Paint and Chemicals

Guurrgle. Oh no. Sounds like harsh chemicals have made their way into the river. When it comes to pollution, that’s as bad as it gets.

So what should you do?

  • Make sure you don’t rinse paint cans or brushes out on the street
  • If you have an oil or antifreeze spill, soak it up with sand or kitty litter, then throw it out
  • Seal and store all used chemicals and bring them to an Eco Station

What else can you do?

  • Only purchase non-toxic, biodegradable, recyclable products
  • Try to shovel and break up ice rather than using chemical de-icers
  • To prevent excess paint and chemicals, buy only what you need
Runoff and Rain Barrels

Hiccup.  Yikes. Rainwater after a storm can overload the sewer system, sometimes dumping sewage into the river. Believe it or not, you can help prevent that.

So what should you do?

  • Avoid large hard surfaces like full yard decks and patios. More vegetation will let more rainwater drain into the ground
  • Get a rain barrel. It diverts rainwater from the sewer and gives you natural water for your plants

What else can you do?

  • Direct downspouts to your lawn or garden rather than hard surfaces
  • Build a rain garden using Edmonton’s Rain Garden in a Box guide
  • Reconsider that paved walkway—try stepping stones instead

About River For Life

River For Life is the City of Edmonton’s core initiative to address water quality improvement. Right now, our work is focused on reducing pollutants released by Edmontonians to stormwater sewers. Our ultimate goal is achieving net zero impact from human activities on the North Saskatchewan River.

River For Life builds on the objectives of The Way We Green, the City’s Environmental Strategic Plan—one of 6 plans within the The Way Ahead’s 2040 Vision. It incorporates initiatives including Store It, Don’t Pour It and Treat It Right.

Here’s what River For Life has planned over the next several years:

  • Installing more low impact development on City land
  • Developing and implementing stormwater quality improvement plans for industrial areas
  • Holding more workshops for programs like “Rain Garden In a Box
  • Building stormwater quality improvement facilities to protect sensitive areas
  • Expanding education and awareness messaging to industrial, commercial and institutional land owners

For More Information

River for Life Project

Telephone

311

Email riverforlife@edmonton.ca

Kerri Robinson

Title Engineer, Environmental Planning
Telephone

780-508-9329

Email kerri.robinson@edmonton.ca

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