| Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012 06:00 am
Student team sweeps river
Sir George Simpson students got an early start on this year’s river cleanup Friday by pulling everything from plastic bottles to tractor parts out of the Sturgeon.
About 23 Grade 8 students from Sir George Simpson canoed down the Sturgeon River Friday morning as part of a joint cleanup/scientific expedition. Setting off from St. Albert Place, they spent about two hours paddling down the river to Kingswood Park, collecting trash and water samples as they went.
The field trip was done in partnership with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Sturgeon River research team, said Laurie Hunt, a biologist involved with that group. The team had done similar river surveys with other schools before and this was its first time with Sir George Simpson.
It was tough going due to the wind, which often blew their boats backwards, said student Jade Deputan. Still, they managed to remove about 34 kilograms of trash from the river, including water bottles, a full jug of Dr. Pepper and a tractor component.
“And there was still more in the river,” she added, noting that they had covered maybe half of its length in the city. “There was one patch (near the shore) where it was almost completely covered in garbage.”
The students later learned how to perform water quality tests and to examine invertebrates found in the river.
The point of the trip was to get students to connect with the ecosystems they live in, Hunt said. “People protect what they like,” she said, and many students don’t get the chance to explore the Sturgeon like this.
Deputan described how the trip taught her a lot about coastal vegetation and the history of the river. She also planned to take part in this weekend’s Clean Up the Sturgeon event.
“Don’t just toss your garbage away,” she said. “Actually find a garbage [can].”
The Clean Up the Sturgeon Event starts at St. Albert Centre and St. Albert Place at 10 a.m.
City residents will have a free chance to get some water saving tips straight from one of Epcor’s tap-masters next week.
Heather Zarski, manager of planning with Epcor, will be giving a free talk on water conservation in Edmonton next Wednesday. The talk is part of the University of Alberta’s Knowledge at Noon speaker series.
Epcor provides fresh water to most communities around Edmonton, including St. Albert.
Edmontonians use about 202 litres of water per person each day, Zarski said, which is pretty good compared to the Canadian average of 327. St. Albert is in the middle at 262, according to this city’s Office of the Environment.
But that’s still a lot of water, she said, noting that Canadians are second only to the Americans as biggest per capita users of water in the world.
“We want to encourage conservation to ensure there is an adequate supply of quality drinking water for future generations,” she said.
Residents can save the most water by switching to low-flow toilets, Zarski said. Most pre-1980s toilets were 20-litre models, but modern ones can get by with as little as 4.8 litres a flush. (St. Albert now offers a rebate to encourage people to buy low-flush toilets.) Fixing leaks can also help, as they cause about 14 per cent of the water losses in most homes.
Epcor has gone a step forward by targeting conservation tips at its highest water users, noted Leah Jackson, environmental manager for the City of St. Albert. While most conservation campaigns are broad-based, research suggests that campaigns are more effective when they’re aimed specifically at the worst offenders — say, homes with huge lawns.
The city plans to unveil its new water conservation strategy this July, Jackson said. In it will be a recommendation for the city to follow Epcor’s lead by mapping out where the biggest water users are in the city and targeting them with conservation tips.
Instead of blanketing the whole city with a rebate program, for example, they might target a specific high-use neighbourhood with water audits.
“It’s looking at who is your audience and who are the ones who really need the education,” Jackson said.
Zarski’s talk is at noon Wednesday in Room 2-957 of Enterprise Square, 10230 Jasper Ave.
Birdwatchers who want to put a little song in their step should head down to St. Albert Trail Sunday morning for the Edmonton Nature Club’s annual warbler walk.
The walk, organized by St. Albert resident Percy Zalasky, will take all comers on a free tour of some of the city’s most popular spots for warblers.
“They are the most spectacular little birds,” Zalasky said, and are known for their bright plumage. Many are now migrating through St. Albert on the way to the boreal forest. Yellow-rumped and orange-crowned warblers have already been spotted in town, and more may show up by the weekend. “They’re insect eaters,” he noted, so they tend to show up soon after the bugs and mosquitoes arrive.
“The main thing is just to be observant,” he said, when asked how to spot these chickadee-sized singers. Listen for songs, he advised, and watch for movement. “When they come, they come in flocks.”
The walk starts at 8 a.m. at the McDonald’s near Ron Hodgson Chevrolet on St. Albert Trail. Visit www.edmontonnatureclub.ca for details.