The PWA has been addressing the issue of anthropogenic waste in the Petitcodiac watershed since its formation in 1997 and have been organizing community clean-ups since the early 2000’s. In 2017, we took things a little further and created the Waste Warriors project to increase public awareness about the impact of this waste on our watershed’s health and will continue to build on this project this year.
The main objective of this project is to identify and clean-up areas of significant waste infiltrating natural ecosystems, assess the amount of microplastics in the watershed and evaluate the impact of waste on the environment. Waste decomposition is accelerated in aquatic environments and can transport the resulting toxins on hundreds of kilometers. For this reason, clean-ups are centered near rivers or streams.
In 2017, we organized 12 community clean-ups and removed 23.1 tonnes of waste from over a square kilometer of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within the watershed with the generous support of NBCC, RBC, the City of Moncton, Riverview High School and Bernice McNaughton High School and promoted local tap water to reduce plastic water bottle waste. In addition, we monitored microplastics at 12 sampling sites within the watershed for the first time and we hope to grow our microplastics monitoring program within the watershed to increase our understanding of their distribution and quantity. Finally, we worked with the internationally renowned artist, Bordalo II, and regional arts festival to create a species at risk (i.e. the Wood Turtle) sculpture out of garbage to illustrate its impact on the environment.
This sculpture was installed by artist Bordalo II and sponsored by the PWA during the 2017 Moncton’s Festival Inspire to raise awareness about species-at-risk and waste pollution. The sculpture is situated on a wall of the Starving Artist Cafe in downtown Moncton and can easily be seen when walking, running, biking or skateboarding on the Riverfront Park trails.
In 2018, the PWA will continue to organize community clean-ups to reduce plastic waste from our waterways. In addition, we are hoping to monitor microplastics with a more robust method and finally we are developing a zero waste living project for the Town of Riverview (see poster below).