This page provides a summary of some of the different programs that are taking place along the Detroit River Canadian AOC. For more information, please visit our Annual Review (yearly reports) and DRCC Publications pages.
Windsor Riverfront Retention Treatment Basin (RTB)
The City of Windsor’s award winning Retention Treatment Basin, which became operational in November 2011, is designed to reduce the amount of untreated wastewater entering the Detroit River as a result of a combined sewer overflow (CSO). During a heavy rainfall event, the RTB collects and holds untreated CSO water until the rainfall event ends and it can be sent to the wastewater treatment plant. If the capacity of the RTB is exceeded during the rainfall event, then the CSO water receives some treatment before being discharged to the Detroit River. In 2013, the CSO RTB captured 737.1 million litres (ML or megalitres) of combined sewage that would have previously been discharged untreated directly to the Detroit River. That’s the equivalent of almost 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water!
Let’s Get Septic Savy!
Improperly functioning or poorly maintained septic systems can result in pollution of the Detroit River’s tributaries. In a recently completed Septic Strategy for the Detroit River AOC, one of the identified challenges was that some homeowners may not know that they have an on-site septic system or how it should be maintained. The Essex Region Conservation Authority, with funding support from Environment Canada, launched an awareness project to help landowners learn more about septic systems and their maintenance. Coined “Get Septic Savvy!”, the comprehensive program included a mass mailing to rural landowners in the Detroit River watershed with information about septic maintenance and a magnetized reminder to have their septic systems serviced regularly to save them money in the long term. Workshops and meetings were held with local groups whose role is influential in making potential home-buyers aware of septic system conditions, inspections and maintenance.
Want to know more about septic maintenance and inspection? The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in collaboration with the Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre has updated its brochure on septic system maintenance and inspection called Your Septic System: Protecting Your Investment and the Environment.
Mercury Education Program
Although naturally occurring, mercury is toxic to people and our environment. Mercury becomes toxic when it is converted to methylmercury, which can enter the blood and organs. Many household items contain mercury including: glass thermometers with silver liquid, button cell batteries, flourescent tube light bulbs, compact flourescent light (CFL) bulbs, as well as round, non-digital thermostats. We want to keep mercury diverted from sewers, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills. Point sources such as these currently contribute to localized mercury contamination leading to fish consumption advisories and human health risks. Download a copy of our Mercury Brochure.
Do you have household waste that contains mercury? Bring your household hazardous waste, including mercury items, year-round to the Household Chemical Waste Depot, located at 3450 North Service Road East (near EC Row and Central Ave) in Windsor for FREE and safe disposal.
Rural Non-Point Pollution Remediation Program
Over the last 19 years, the Essex Region Conservation Authority has implemented the Rural Non-Point Source (NPS) Pollution Remediation Program. The program aims at reducing rural nonpoint source pollution (e.g., nutrients, suspended solids and bacteria) in the Detroit River’s watershed through the implementation of Best Management Practices. In 2015/16, 7 buffer strips were planted and 2 soil erosion control structures were installed. A buffer strip is a permanent strip of vegetation that traps sediment and enhances filtration of nutrients by slowing down runoff that could enter the local surface waters, thereby improving water quality. Similarly, a soil erosion control structure, like a rock chute, is also designed to help prevent surface water from carrying top soil from the field.
ERCA is also working with municipalities to install two rain gardens this spring. Rain gardens allow rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas, like roofs, driveways, and parking lots, the opportunity to be absorbed. This reduces runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground as opposed to flowing into storm drains which can cause erosion, poor water quality in our rivers and lakes, and flooding.