Carmen Roper, 5, and her brother Raymond Roper, 3, wait their turn to get on the rock climbing wall as part of BC Rivers Day in Langley. (Joti Grewal/Black Press Media)

‘All drains lead to fish habitat,’ BC Rivers Day kicks off WaterWeeks in Langley

Langley Environmental Partners Society and Township of Langley aim to educate the public

The BC Rivers Day Community Festival on Sunday marked the start of WaterWeeks in Langley, a three-week series of events put on by the Township of Langley and the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) to encourage community engagement in local environmental stewardship.

Nichole Marples, executive director with LEPS and BC Rivers Day coordinator, was on site at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum Sunday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of BC Rivers Day. Marples said the event provides a platform for the different conservation and environmental organizations in Langley to share information about the work that they do and engage people in environmental conservation and stewardship.

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“Here in Langley we have almost 2,000 kilometres of waterways that flow through our community, over 800 km of that is prime salmon habitat,” said Marples. “It’s very, very important for people in Langley to be able to understand about our rivers and the fact that they are the lifeblood of our community.”

The free event was a chance for the public to learn how their day-to-day life has an impact on the environment.

“Being able to make those connections and understand that even if you don’t have a river in your backyard the land management practices that we choose and how we manage our lawn and our garden, and how we clean our house… things that we put down the drain have a direct correlation with the health of the salmon habitat in the rivers in our community,” said Marples.

Marples believes the public should be aware of material that makes its way through the drain system and into the Fraser River.

“All drains lead to fish habitat,” she said. “So inside our house all of the water that goes down our drains, our washing machine, our toilets all goes to a sewage treatment plant and not all of the chemicals that we put down our drain are cleaned by the sewage treatment plant system; so any type of hazardous chemical… has the ability to impact our water courses as those substances aren’t necessarily cleaned out of the water before they enter into the Fraser River.”

This also includes storm drains that line the city’s streets and absorb runnoff soap from car washing and oil from leaks.

“On our streets we have storm drains and each one of those storm drains provides a direct link between the street and the stream,” said Marples.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Although the public was encouraged to make their way to the event in an environmentally-friendly way, the parking at the arboretum was at capacity even at the end of the event.

There were several activities for attendees to take part in including a free organic hot dog barbecue, bird feeder building, gold panning, rock climbing and face painting.

The next WaterWeek event will be held on Sept. 24 at the Township’s civic facility building located at 20338 65 Avenue in Langley. Dr. Paul Richard, environmental protection and policy studies instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, will present on innovative technology to combat climate change at 7 p.m.

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