by Connie Oswald Stofko
In the past, we’ve talked about many things gardeners can do to help protect our waterways in Western New York– See some of those ways below.
Now Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is offering us another way to help our local environment: tell your representatives that you want them to prevent huge cuts to funding for Great Lakes cleanup.
The White House is reportedly considering virtually eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative is the product of a long history of bipartisan support and is showing real results in cleanup, dealing with invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms and restoring habitat to native species. Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, which is part of the initiative, last year received international recognition for its work, including the massive Buffalo River restoration.
Some reports indicate that funding would be cut from $300 million to $10 million in the next fiscal year.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper makes it easy to let your voice be heard. There’s an online form you can fill out. When you type in your Zip Code, your congressperson and senators come up. You can send your message directly to them without having to look up their contact information.
I did it and I encourage you to do it, too.
As gardeners, we are concerned about the environment, especially our local environment. It’s up to us to take action. If we don’t do it, who will?
You can also share this information on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag @BNRiverkeeper.
Other things you can do to protect our environment
As stormwater flows over streets and lawns, it collects and transports animal waste, litter, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil & grease, soil and other pollutants. The polluted stormwater empties directly into streams and rivers with no treatment. See a diagram and more details here.
The other way that rain barrels and rain gardens help is by keeping rainwater out of the sewer system. Our stormwater systems and sewer systems are interconnected. When we get a heavy rain, it can overwhelm the system. To keep the water from backing up into your house, a relief valve dumps raw sewage directly into the river. Beaches are often closed after a heavy rain. See a diagram here.
You should also be careful when draining your fountain, pool or spa to keep pollutants such as chlorine and sediment from getting into our storm drains and waterways.
And consider volunteer opportunities, such as this project that took place last year planting trees along a shoreline in Niagara Falls.