Rotarian Samantha Reid introduced Olivia Hughes as the guest speaker on the topic of cleaning up urban runoff in the Bay of Quinte.  Olivia is the Stormwater Project Coordinator with the Quinte Conservation Authority, one of 36 Conservation Authorities that serve 95% of Ontario's population.  The Quinte Conservation Authority provides scientific advice and expertise on watershed activity with a focus to preserve people and property and conserve natural resources.  The local watershed is 6600 square km, draining to the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario.
Deforestation began in Belleville in 1929 and the area is now considered urbanized, resulting in a shifted water cycle and impact on water balances.  In a natural environment, there is 40% evapotranspiration and 10% runoff and in an urban setting, the evapotranspiration is 30% with 55% runoff.  Runoff from farms, streets, industry all flow to the Bay of Quinte, trash included.  Phosphorus from urban runoff is a big issue locally.  One kg of phosphorus = 300 kg of algae.
What can we do?  We can plant trees to keep soil where it belongs.  Landscape property.  Participate in community events such as Rotary Loves Trees.  Collect rain water and re-use and redirect your down spouts to your garden.  Pickup garbage that collects on your property.  Build rain gardens, making your lawn useful.  A rain garden will provide habitat for wildlife such as birds, butterflies and bees.  It will help protect streams, rivers and lakes from pollutants carried by stormwater runoff.  By having a rain garden, it increases in the amount of water entering the ground that will recharge aquifers.  Beautifying your yard and neighbourhood comes with all these benefits.  If you live in an urban center around the Bay of Quinte, you could be eligible for a grant of up to $500 for native plants, soil, compost, gravel and mulch to establish a functioning rain garden.
Why help protect the environment?  Locally, the fishing industry is big and attracts thousands of anglers to the area as well as video and media programs.  Having a regard for the environment protects wildlife and plants and provides good drinking water.  It also promotes recreation and tourism, resulting in a positive economy. 
Rotarian Melanie Cressman thanked Olivia for the information she shared and the links she provided to research and learn more.  A great reminder about why we are taking environmental steps to improve and safeguard our community.