Protect the Detroit River from home

by Gina Pannunzio, DRCC RAP Assistant
There are over 5 million people on the Canadian and American sides of the Detroit River who live in the watershed and depend on it for drinking water. Residents in Canada who live in Turkey Creek, Little River and Canard River watersheds can be stewards of the Detroit River, and do many things to reduce negative impacts on the shared resource.
 
Pollutants of the Detroit River originating from Windsor generally include:
  • The City of Windsor’s, Town of LaSalle’s and Amherstburg’s sewer system and associated Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs)
  • Collection of litter in storm drains
  • Improper disposal of oils, gasoline and other substances 
 
Sewage pump in Essex, Ontario being serviced due to a large blockage of non-flushable material. Photo credit: Town of Essex Facebook Page, April 16 2020.

Household Actions

The sanitary sewers (connected to our homes) and waste water treatment plants (where our water goes to from our homes) are designed to treat only sanitary wastes only. DO NOT put fats, oils and greases (FOGs), plastics, sanitary products, “flushable wipes” or household hazardous chemicals down your drains.
 
Fats, Oils and Grease (FOGs): FOGs accumulate in the sewers, restricting flows, and may contribute to basement flooding. FOGs that make it to the WWTP clog pipes and screens, and reduce the effectiveness of the overall treatment process, increasing plant operation costs. FOGs should be allowed to solidify in a jar and then be disposed of with the garbage.
 
Plastics: Plastics and rags are unhealthy for sewers. These objects float and by-pass the chemical and physical collection processes at WWTP. The following should be disposed of as regular garbage: personal hygiene products, wrappers, rags and product labels.
 
Household Chemicals: The WWTPs are designed to treat human waste only. Other chemicals entering the WWTP may pass through the plant to the Detroit River. All household chemicals, including pesticides should be taken to the Household Chemical Waste Depot.
 
Household chemicals can include expired or unwanted medication, pesticides, flea sprays and collars, paints, stains, thinners and acids, drain cleaners, pool chemicals, car products such as motor oil and antifreeze, gas, kerosene, diesel and propane tanks and items that contain Mercury such as thermometers, thermostats and CFL bulbs.
 
#1, #2, and TP, that’s it!
 
A friendly reminder that to prevent sewer backups, only #1, #2, and TP are flushable. ‘Flushable’ wipes do not break down like TP and can clog sewers. Check out our wastewater video we created in partnership with The City of Windsor for more information.
Outdoor Actions
 
Help reduce the volume of sewage, runoff, pollution, litter and organic matter that could end up in the river untreated through storm sewers.
 
Storm Sewers carry stormwater runoff only. Storm Sewers eventually drain to the Detroit River, untreated. There are 732 kilometres of storm sewers within the City of Windsor
 
  • Disconnecting downspouts allows rainwater to flow onto lawns freeing up capacity in the sewers during storms.
  • Installing a rain barrel will help you conserve water, as rain water collected during a storm can be used to water your garden on dry days.
  • Keep storm drains clear of debris during storm events. This not only helps protect fish and wildlife in the Detroit River watershed, but also prevents storm drain backups that can lead to street flooding.
  • Keep a tight lid on your trash can and recycle bins to reduce wind blown litter.
  • When pesticides and fertilizers are applied to lawns, between 60-90% of the chemical sprays are washed into sewer drains and eventually rivers, where they impact wildlife. If you have unwanted weeds in your yard, pull them out by hand.
  • Pick up your pet’s waste while at home and out in parks, trails and conservation areas.
  • Consider washing your vehicle at a facility that recycles water by sending it to the sanitary sewer, instead of washing it in your driveway.
  • Learn more

Learn more about protecting your river from home

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.