Environment File

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St. Albert and Sturgeon residents will green-up this week in preparation for Earth Day celebrations.

April 22 is Earth Day, the annual global celebration of the environment.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie students will start the party early on April 19 by shutting off all the lights and electronics in their school for an hour, said teacher Janelle Grice. On April 21, her class will also go waste-free.

“We close all the garbage cans so we have no garbage cans in the classroom,” she said, adding that they leave their compost bin open.

Students will be encouraged to bring their lunch in re-useable containers and to use towels instead of tissues. Any non-compostable waste they create will be glued to a wall of shame to encourage students to become more aware of their waste.

“With global warming and everything, it’s really important that we realize the impact we make every day,” Grice said.

City of St. Albert staffers will hold a special cleanup of city facilities on Earth Day and publish the annual Report on the Environment in the Gazette, said city environment manager Christian Benson.

On Earth Day, city residents will get to participate in the Edmonton Resilience Festival, which replaces the traditional Edmonton Earth Day event.

Michael Kalmanovitch, who usually organizes Edmonton’s Earth Day event, said he wasn’t able to do so this year due to tough times at his business, Earth’s General Store. When the Resilience Festival organizers decided to schedule their event on Earth Day, they met with him and agreed to merge their events.

The Resilience Festival is meant to bring people together to share skills and build community, said festival co-host Michael Moore.

“Many skills our grandmothers took for granted are quite lost to our society today,” Moore said, such as cheese-making or fermenting food. These are skills that help drive more sustainable cities and food production.

“If we take care of the Earth, then we are taking care of ourselves.”

Moore said the festival features free talks on water, local food and upcycling, a film festival, market, and about 40 workshops on yoga, basket making, lard and other subjects. There will also be a panel discussion on resilience featuring former St. Albert resident and energy efficiency expert Godo Stoyke and an Earth Day party featuring food, drink and live music.

Workshops at the festival cost zero to $35. Visit www.edmontonresiliencefestival.com for details.

Roads and road salt are making North America’s lakes saltier over time, suggests a comprehensive new report.

A team of researchers lead by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Hilary Dugan published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week on road salt and freshwater lakes.

The study took water quality data, specifically chloride levels, from some 371 North American freshwater lakes (including some from Alberta, but most from the northeast U.S. and Ontario), determined how those levels changed over time, and looked for possible causes of that change.

The study found that about 44 per cent of these lakes had become saltier over 10 or more years. When it zoomed in on just the lakes in the northeast U.S. and Ontario, it found that 70 per cent of the lakes that became saltier had at least one per cent of the land within 500 metres of them covered with impermeable material, suggesting that roads and road salt were the cause. Extrapolating from this, the study found that some 7,770 freshwater lakes in this region could be at risk of rising salinity.

Fourteen of the lakes in the study were on track to breach 230 milligrams of chloride per litre by 2050 at current rates, which is the point beyond which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says you get significant risk to aquatic life.

While the fact that road salt is bad for lakes isn’t really news, the vast scope of this analysis was, said David Schindler, a retired University of Alberta limnologist involved with the review of this study.

“In my view, it is stupid to use sodium chloride,” he said, especially on Alberta roads, as it kills trees, rusts cars and generally doesn’t work well in prairie winters.

“Straight sand is best, and good winter tires should be mandatory.”

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St. Albert Gazette

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