Keep your drains and sewers safe and happy this holiday

It’s a no-brainer, families across Windsor-Essex County will have an increased amount of cooking fat waste that will be generated from all of the great dinners over the holidays. The DRCC would like to remind everyone that sewer backups caused by clogged lines from FOG (fats, oils and greases) can cause damage to homes, public infrastructure damage and can also affect public health. If the lines are clogged, then the lines cannot move our sanitary waste effectively through the system.


FOG Clogging Public Infrastructure

Sanitary sewers are connected to homes and their kitchen and bathroom sinks, dishwasher, toilets and floor drains. The wastewater from these lines goes to a plant for treatment prior to be flushed back into a river or stream. Storm sewers are typically located in a curbed area on a street, a parking lot or alley way. Untreated rainwater or runoff is collected here and is directed back into a river or stream. It is extremely important that nothing is poured into the storm sewer since this water is untreated.

Tips for a happy and safe holiday:

  • Scrape food scraps and grease solids (let them cool down in a dish/jar etc. and place into the garbage (NOT down the sink, garbage disposal drain, toilet etc.)
  • Grease spills can be cleaned up by using paper towels or other absorbent material such as cat litter and place in the garbage
  • Capture FOG material from dishes by wiping them with a paper towel before washing in the sink or dishwasher
  • Capture food waste by using a strainer when doing dishes and scrape off excess food before loading into the dishwasher
  • Do not pour anything at all down the drain, sewers or even onto the ground outside (this can include solvents, waste motor oil, paint, gasoline or other household hazardous chemicals)
  • Take advantage of the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority Household Chemical Waste Depot to dispose of chemical wastes safely for public health and the environment
  • Read the City of Windsor’s Proper Disposal of Household Liquid Waste Brochure

Check out the DRCC’s Wastewater: Where does it go video!

Have you ever wondered what happens to water and other substances when they are flushed down our drains and toilets? It shouldn’t be a mystery, and the City of Windsor and the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup initiative created a wastewater video to help de-mystify the topic, and educate viewers. Most of us don’t really think about what happens to water once it’s flushed or drained away and out of sight. It all has to go somewhere, though, and what we put down our drains can have a big impact on our home and our environment.

The video follows the flow of wastewater from a home in Windsor to one of two places: the waste water treatment plant or the Detroit River. There are many household items that are branded as ‘flushable’ that really shouldn’t be put down the toilet.  What’s more, some items go directly back into our rivers and lakes without treatment. 

Image Credit: No name. No Author. Clogged infrastructure Image. Retrieved from:

Green Speaker Series: Invasive Phragmites: Expert Panel

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee (WECEC) is hosting a Green Speaker Series event on Wednesday December 14th 2016 at 7:00pm at the Essex County Civic Centre (360 Fairview Ave West, Essex, ON). Join the discussion and hear from an expert panel who will discuss invasive phragmites. For more information please call 519-253-7111 Ext. 3290 or e-mail


Agronomic Land Management Specialist Job Posting

Position Title: Agronomic Land Management Specialist
Term: January 3, 2017 or ASAP to August 31, 2018
Location: 125 Resources Road, Etobicoke, ON or University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, or another location may be negotiated

Download Posting here

 Full Description

The University of Windsor, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), seeks a highly motivated, well organized individual to execute a campaign to survey the agricultural land management practices in 10 small headwater catchments in southern Ontario. Job duties include: 1) design an appropriate sampling strategy to ensure a representative sample of land management practices across each watershed is achieved; 2) organize community events to promote and disseminate project information; 3) coordinate, procure, and manage services from qualified specialists such as Certified Crop Advisors or Conservation Authority personnel to administer farm-operator surveys and appropriate laboratories to perform soil testing; 4) prepare, curate, and evaluate data gathered; and 5) organize and attend meetings between various non-governmental organizations, Conservation Authorities, academic, and government researchers.


  • Comfortable initiating and running meetings, presenting in front of groups of people, and telephoning/meeting with project partners such as Conservation Authorities, farm operators, members of the public, and local fertilizer providers/agronomists/Certified Crop Advisors;
  • Ability to work independently in a fast-paced team environment
  • Applicants must possess post-secondary credentials in soil science, agronomy, agricultural engineering, or a related field;
  • Ability to organize and prioritize work, meet deadlines;
  • Excellent interpersonal and written/oral communication skills, attention to detail, and proven ability to write scientific and/or technical reports;
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office or a comparable office product;
  • Experience working with geographic information systems software, statistical analysis software, and relational databases (e.g. Access) and maintaining large datasets is desired but not essential;
  • Knowledge of nutrient management software (e.g., NMAN) is desired but not essential;
  • Familiarity with farming practices carried out currently and historically in Ontario is desired but not essential;
  • Experience working with farming communities in Ontario is strongly desired but not essential; and
  • Applicants must have a valid Ontario driver’s license.

Applications will be reviewed starting December 15, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled.

Applications should consist of a resume and a cover letter describing how the applicant meets the requested qualifications. Cover letter should be 2 pages maximum. Resume should include references, which may be contacted by the project team. Applications or questions about the position can be sent by email to:

Dr. Christopher Wellen
Research Assistant Professor
Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research
University of Windsor
Windsor, Ontario

Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Environment and Climate Change Canada is calling for proposals to the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund. The deadline is January 16th 2017. Priority for GLSF funding will be given to projects that directly contribute towards the completion of necessary remedial actions and beneficial use impairments identified in the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup’s most current work plan. If you have an idea for a restoration project in an Area of Concern and would like more information about funding opportunities, please contact the GLSF at
If your organization intends on applying for a GLSF grant for work in the Detroit River Area of Concern, please contact Gina Pannunzio ( by December 7th in order to have it reviewed by the Steering and Implementation Committee. 

Important Documents to Review and Use for Applications

Bird Studies Canada Projects

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas Program

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) Program is a program that works to identify, monitor, and conserve the world’s most important sites for birds and biodiversity.  Sites are designated using a science-based approach which sets criteria and thresholds for trigger species.  In Canada IBAs are triggered mainly by threatened species, and significant congregations of birds.  The exemplary IBA Caretaker Network (started in 2006 in B.C.) took off in Ontario in 2013.  Caretakers are volunteers who monitor bird populations, report on threats to IBAs, work with partners on stewardship activities, and help build community awareness about the importance of IBAs.

Lower Detroit River Important Bird and Biodiversity Area

The globally significant Lower Detroit River IBA which extends from the north end of Fighting Island to the mouth at Lake Erie, is important for congregations of birds and waterfowl. Ring-billed Gulls were originally a trigger species (in 1990 there were 34,021 pairs, 3.9% of the North American population on Fighting Island).  Recently the gull colony has changed, but Canvasbacks still occur in significant numbers (in 2015, birders counted 9000 along the IBA, 1.7% of its global population)!  The IBA is also a winter home to many Redheads and Common Mergansers.  Pollution of the river and surrounding wetland areas is the main conservation concern due to the high population along the river (Windsor, Detroit, LaSalle, Amherstberg).  Fortunately, organizations such as the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club are taking action to protect the area. 

The Lower Detroit River IBA at King’s Navy Yard in Amherstberg. Credit: Amanda Bichel

The Lower Detroit River IBA at King’s Navy Yard in Amherstberg, ON. Credit: Amanda Bichel

Visit the IBA Canada website to learn more about the IBA Program, Caretaker Network, and how to get involved.

Lower Detroit River IBA Waterbird Count Events

There will be two waterbird count events in the Lower Detroit River IBA this winter on Saturday January 28th and February 25th 2017.  The activity will consist of two mornings of identifying waterbirds (mostly ducks) on the river in pre-determined locations.  More details will come as we get closer to the date.

Lower Detroit River IBA Waterbird Count Poster

Christmas Bird Count

The ‘Christmas Bird Count‘ (CBC) is conducted in over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.Christmas Bird Counts are conducted on any one day between December 14 and January 5 inclusive. They are carried out within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. These bird observations have been amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time.  Birds are indicators of the overall health of our environment. As well as adding an exciting and fun event to the holiday season, the Christmas Bird Count provides valuable insight into the long-term health of bird populations and the environment. 
Christmas Bird Counts are generally group efforts, though single-observer counts can and do happen. They are organized at the local level, usually by a birding club or naturalists organization. Volunteers are welcome! For more details about a count, please contact the organizer as listed below: 
BL – Rondeau – date TDB (Contact Keith J. Burk: 
NS –  Lakeshore – date TBD (Contact
CC –  Cedar Creek – December 17th 2016 (Contact Paul Pratt:
PP – Point Pelee – date TBD. (Contact Sarah Rupert: 
HB Holiday Beach – December 27th 2016 (Contact Jeremy Hatt: 
SC – Saint Clair – date TBD (Contact Allen Woodliffe

Contact Information

To contact the Ontario IBA Coordinator, e-mail:

To contact the CBC Coordinator, e-mail:

Get Involved!

From tree plantings and clean ups, to advocacy and education programs, CLICK HERE to find out how you can be involved with protecting and enhancing the Detroit River.