Beaches Living Guide Spring/Summer 2015
A Healthy Watershed for Our Drinking Water and for All Life
You might be wondering what you can do to help keep our Toronto watersheds healthy. The good news is there’s some very simple things you can do.
Divert Your Rainwater
It’s very simple and very helpful, and recommended by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. You can move the water outlet from your roof so it drains on grass instead of concrete, which can absorb some of the water.
Or you can put a rain barrel at the bottom of the spout to capture the water. Then you can use it to water your garden and save money on your hydro bill. By diverting the water, you reduce run-off to city sewers, which during major storms can create water quality issues in Toronto.
Think Twice About What You Put in the Water
You might want to consider cutting down or eliminating your use of salt, pesticides and fertilizers. They’re bad for the watersheds, contaminating rivers, ponds and groundwater supplies. Try to reduce or even stop using them altogether, it would make a big difference.
You also might want to look at the chemicals in the products you buy.
The David Suzuki Foundation has created a list they call the Dirty Dozen (davidsuzuki.org) – chemicals to avoid while shopping for personal care and cosmetic products. These chemicals are harmful to our watershed and ultimately, to our health.
Microbeads in Your Cosmetics
Microbeads are the tiny pieces of plastic found in cosmetic products that give them that gritty feel: such as skin exfoliators, body washes, shaving cream and even in toothpaste. As small as a millimetre in diameter they seem harmless, but once in our Lake, they’ve been proven deadly to smaller aquatic life, and they don’t break down.
Our Great Lakes already have an average of 43,000 microbeads per square kilometre, and as much 466,000 per square kilometre near cities, according to research by the 5 Gyres Institute.
They found an average of 20 pieces of plastic in medium-sized fish in Lake Erie, and 44 inside cormorants, a bird that eats fish.
To avoid buying products with microbeads, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper advises you to look for product ingredients that start with poly: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.
Get Out and Experience the Wonder of Lake Ontario, its Streams and Rivers
When was the last time you were out near or on the Lake? Living near the Beaches, you probably take advantage of everything the Lake has to offer. But if it’s been awhile, go see what you’ve been missing. Cycle our Waterfront pathways, rent a SUP on the Beaches, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll by the water at Ashbridges Bay.
You can even do your part to revitalize local watersheds by joining a tree planting or park clean-up day. Parkpeople.ca has a great list of events and organizations you can join to help.
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; Lake Ontario Waterkeeper; David Suzuki Foundationl; 5 Gyres Institute; Park People