Help keep our creeks and lakes clean

Sign on a Burlington Beach advising that dogs are not permitted on the beach.
A sign at a Burlington beach advising that dogs are not permitted on the beach.

Have you ever wondered why dogs are not permitted on Burlington’s beaches and why we ask that you do not feed the waterfowl? Are we being overly bureaucratic, trying to stop people from having fun, or is there a reason behind these rules?

These rules are in place to protect our water quality. And, as I mentioned in my the last two posts, anything that flows from a road into a storm drain or catch basin ends up in the nearest water body and eventually flows into Lake Ontario without going to a wastewater treatment plant.

We all have a role to play in ensuring that our creeks, lakes and beaches are clean. Below are some tips on what we can all do.

  • Stoop and scoop
    • Please be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your pet. Feces contain a lot of pathogens and bacteria that can impact our health. It’s for this reason that the City of Burlington’s Animal Control Bylaw does not allow dogs on the beach.
    • The City of Montreal recently launched a cleanliness campaign that has been getting a lot of attention – especially the large plastic sculpture of dog poop on a transit shelter which targets dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets.
Pick up dog poop poster
A public education poster titled “When your pet goes on the lawn, remember, it doesn’t just go on the lawn.” Image courtesy of the Puget Sound Action Team, Washington State Department of Ecology in partnership with King County and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, and Tacoma, Washington.
  • Enjoy the wildlife but please don’t feed them!
    • Poop from geese, other waterfowl and yes, even your dog, along with poor water circulation contribute to beach closings due to high levels of E-coli. A variety of measures have been tried over the years at Spencer Smith Park to keep the geese away including air guns, decoys, and dogs while also oiling the eggs to control populations. While feeding the waterfowl might be seen as a right of passage for youth, this activity undermines the attempts to keep geese away and it will also be illegal under the city’s Animal Control Bylaw as of September 28, 2016.
A sign advising not to feed the waterfowl.
A sign advising not to feed the waterfowl.
  • Limit your use of fertilizers.
    • Excess fertilizers can wash into our storm system leading to additional algae growth reducing the amount of oxygen available to aquatic organisms.
Fertilizer poster
A public education poster titled “When you’re fertilizing the lawn, remember, you’re not just fertilizing the lawn.” Image courtesy of the Puget Sound Action Team, Washington State Department of Ecology in partnership with King County and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, and Tacoma, Washington.
  • Take your vehicle to a car wash if it needs to be cleaned.
    • If you wash your vehicle on your driveway, all of the soap and dirt will end up in the storm sewer system untreated. However, if you use a car wash, the water is reused and what ends up being disposed goes to a sanitary sewer system (just like the water used at home for your toilets, showers, laundry, etc.) where it is properly treated.
Washing car poster
A public education poster titled “When you’re washing your car in the driveway, remember, you’re not just washing your car in the driveway.” Image courtesy of the Puget Sound Action Team, Washington State Department of Ecology in partnership with King County and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, and Tacoma, Washington.
Leaking vehicle poster
A public education poster titled “When your car’s leaking oil on the street, remember, it’s not just leaking oil on the street.” Image courtesy of the Puget Sound Action Team, Washington State Department of Ecology in partnership with King County and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, and Tacoma, Washington.
  • Put waste in its place.
    • Many choose to litter but did you know that littering is illegal?
    • Littering along creek paths and in creek ravines can lead to trash being washed downstream and possibly cause blockages on storm sewer inlet and outlet grates.

      Debris washed into the catch basins trapped in outlet structure
      Material caught in an outlet that made its way through the storm sewer system.
    • Litter can also create havoc for wildlife as they mistake litter for food.
    • Ensure you properly dispose of hazardous waste such as batteries. The City of Burlington has battery recycling bins available at many of our facilities. Two of our local fire stations also offer bins for electronic waste.
    • Thanks to BurlingtonGreen for organizing an annual community clean-up. While the event is always a success, it would be nice to dream of never needing such an event with everyone properly disposing of their waste.
Beach clean up
A clean up event at the beach.
  • Limit your use of salt in the winter by clearing the snow and ice first.
    • Excess salt not only damages the plants on your property, it also ‘shocks’ aquatic organisms as snow melts and drains into the storm water system.
  • Sweep your driveway and collect the debris instead of hosing it down.
    • This not only saves water but reduces the amount of debris entering our storm drains.

Did you know?

  • The City of Burlington has a Storm Sewer Discharge Bylaw prohibiting the discharge of material into the storm sewer, watercourse, municipal or private sewer connection that could impair the quality of water in any water body or impact a person, animal, property or vegetation.

If we all work together, we can help to reduce our impact on our storm water system. Take Action Burlington! Collectively we can make a difference!

This is the third in a series of four blog posts related to water issues. The first two posts were about emptying your pool, hot tub or spa the right way, and the Yellow Fish Road program respectively. The final post will be about the annual Halton Children’s Water Festival.

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2 thoughts on “Help keep our creeks and lakes clean

  1. A well written and effectively presented article about a very important issue, about which too few of us are informed or even aware
    Susan

    Like

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