The streets of Surrey could use some more yellow fish painted near storm drains, and residents are being challenged to help out.
They’re called “Salmon Tracks,” a reminder that roadside drains flow directly into a creek where fish live.
“We have 1,500 kilometres of creeks, and what gets into those drains isn’t treated,” noted Lauren Petersen, who works in the city’s environment department.
“A lot of people don’t understand that storm-drain water doesn’t go to the treatment plant, so everything that goes down a storm drain goes untreated right out to our creeks and into the ocean, ultimately.”
As a way to help salmon live a more pollution-free life in Surrey, a Storm Drain Marking Challenge started on July 1 and continues until Aug. 15.
The 45-day campaign encourages local kids and families to paint as many yellow fish by roadside drains as possible, for a chance to win prizes that include rec-centre passes and lunch kits.
For those who get involved, program operators provide kits with yellow paint, stencils and maps of nearby storm drains, to help spread awareness that only rain should go down storm drains.
The Storm Drain Marking Challenge has been up and running for about seven years.
“The Salmon Tracks program is usually just community groups and schools that do it, and this is our way of getting it more into the residential public,” Petersen said.
“It’s fun for people, too, we hope,” she added. “We’ve done a lot of media this year and we’ve seeing an uptick in the number of people calling and wanting to get involved, for kids to have something to do in the summertime. In the past, we used to do this in May and June, which is a busy time, but with it being in the summer now, it’s good for the kids to get outside and take part and make the environment a little better.”
To request a Salmon Tracks kit, call 604-591-4321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The kits are also available for pickup at rec and community centres in Cloverdale, Fleetwood, Fraser Heights, Newton, North Surrey, South Surrey and Grandview Heights.
“When you’ve completed the challenge, simply return the kits to one of these centres or the Information Desk at Surrey City Hall with your ballot to win a prize,” says a post on the city’s website.
“We have a thank-you gift for everyone that takes part, too,” Petersen noted.
The Salmon Tracks storm drain marking program is a partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
There are tens of thousands of storm drains around Surrey, and more than 3,550 drains have been marked in past challenges, according to a Salmon Tracks page on the city’s website.
“How do we know which ones are marked and which ones still need to have a yellow fish painted by it? Check out the City’s COSMOS storm drain map to see where to plan your storm drain marking route.”