This isn’t a catch you’ll see on anyone’s Instagram feed, but it’s one that the city is proud to keep out of the Red River.
Earlier this year, the city installed a large net in the stormwater drain at the end of Rosser Avenue, the city’s largest where a majority of rainwater spills into the Red River.
“When someone throws a coffee cup on the ground, it has to end up somewhere. When it rains, it might get caught in the rainwater and find its way into the sewer system,” said the city’s Public Works Manager Ryan Sicinski.
“We’ve only had a few rain events this year but even from those few, the net is already full. This simple concept will keep hundreds of pounds of waste from spilling into the river.”
Keeping our waterways clean
The city continues to work towards separating all of its combined sewer lines as part of infrastructure renewal under its Capital Asset Management Program (CAMP). It is also a key objective of the city’s Climate Change Adaption Strategy (CCAS). Combined sewer separation puts wastewater and stormwater into two different pipe-networks.
Combined sewers are a cheaper option for developers but one that has a limited capacity during high rain events causing sewer backups, basement flooding, and emergency discharges of diluted sewage into the river. Combined systems also transport clean rainwater to wastewater treatment plants for unnecessary treatment.
Finding a simple solution
One downside to sewer separation is the inevitable collection of larger trash. Coffee cups and plastic bags are not filtered out in the wastewater treatment process and end up in waterways. So as the City of Selkirk separates its combined systems, more trash is being washed into the Red River via the city’s storm sewers.
These nets address that problem.
“This simple solution allows rainwater to flow into our waterways, and for trash to be properly disposed of at our Waste Transfer Station, keeping hundreds of pounds of garbage out of the Red River each year,” said Chief Administrative Officer Duane Nicol.
Hammering one of the pillars
It’s large investments like sewer separation and the $39 million Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, paired with improved operating practices like the garbage-catching net, that show how Selkirk is leading the charge as environmental stewards, one of the five pillars of the city’s Strategic Plan.
“Citizens asked us to be better stewards of our environment during the development of our Community Strategic Plan. We’ve taken sustainability to heart in everything we do. Methodically, as we have the resources, capacity, and know-how, we’re improving our processes and our infrastructure to have better environmental outcomes. Often we find that these changes actually save money in the long run as well,” said Nicol.
Only you can be the certain solution
While the 8’ x 5’ net keeps a majority of the trash out of the Red, Sicinski says there’s only one way we can keep 100% of the garbage out of our waterways.
“We strategically placed garbage and recycling bins across the city so that no matter where you are, you are within a three block radius of one,” said Sicinski.
“It’s not hard to hold onto a wrapper or a cup for an extra couple minutes to properly dispose of it. It’s a simple solution, but one some people have a hard time understanding. Properly disposing of your garbage saves taxpayers money, saves the lives of wildlife, and keeps our waterways and our city clean for everyone.”