Yellow Fish program aims to make an indelible impression on students

Raising awareness about storm water pollution

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Students from St. Joseph School in South Porcupine got a chance to get outdoors on Monday as part of the Yellow Fish road program from the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority.

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The Yellow Fish road program raises awareness about storm water pollution, and how it can impact local wildlife areas and waterways.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the water that goes into the storm drains goes untreated into our lakes and rivers, so we’re just trying to raise awareness and remind people that only rain should go down the storm drains,” he said. Crystal Percival, the MRCA’s drinking water source protection lead.

“Under the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority, we promote this program, and the principal actually reached out to us, and invited us to participate. So we’re here today, and I hope the kids had lots of fun.”

The program is promoted throughout the community, and Percival said it was the seventh such painting event of the year.

The Grade 4 and 5 St. Joseph students split up into small groups with supervisors to go out into the surrounding neighborhood to paint fish near storm drains using stencils and bright yellow paint, which typically lasts about two years.

Some students also left fish-shaped door hangers at local homes as a friendly reminder.

“We started this program in 2019, and we had really, really good traction with the program,” said Percival. “Then COVID hit, and unfortunately we had a lull in the program. This is the first year that we were actually able to go out and fully implement the program.

“The program is delivered in two different components – we do a learning component, and then the action portion of going out and painting fish by the storm drains.”

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The in-class portion taught the students some valuable lessons.
“We were teaching them the different types of pollution, and common pollution that happens on the streets, and ways to prevent it,” said Percival. “A lot of things we see end up in the storm sewers are things like dog faeces, oil and gas, and litter, and then we just talked about different ways that we can help clean up the community, and prevent those nasty contaminants from going down the storm drains.”

Shannon Kleinhuis, who teaches a split class of Grades 4 and 5, was very happy with the program, especially to start the last week of school.

“It’s a great thing for them (MRCA) to come out and do this with us, because these hands-on activities, the kids will really remember them,” he said.

“They’re learning about what goes into the storm sewers, and how important it is to make sure the pollutants aren’t getting into the drains. That’s the main message, plus they now know what the yellow fish represents, and they can pass that information along.”

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