This week, we need to answer questions about our city to help us gain some knowledge about our environment.
Where does your trash go?
I live in Gatineau, province of Québec, Canada. My city has a Waste Management Plan that provides guidelines, determines the objectives and ways to achieve it. Gatineau is revising its Waste Management Plan for the years 2016 to 2020. The public will be consulted on the project in the fall of 2015. To learn more, click here. The Waste Management Plan will be allowed to divert from landfill nearly 30% of waste. This reduction is attributable to the introduction of the recycling bins of 360 liters, the implementation of the compost collection and the opening eco-centers. Gatineau waste is now buried in Sainte-Sophie. From 2007 to 2011, the city has reduced its waste by 86 000 tons to 61 000 tons. The next target is to reach 55 000 tons.
Are there options for recycling that you’re making use of? Why or why not?
I’m recycling, a lot. Residents are now required to sort and reprocess recyclable residual materials in Gatineau. Occupants of homes and residential units must separate recyclables from household trash, and dispose of them as prescribed under the by-law. Recyclables are collected once every two weeks for units with curbside collection, all year-long, on the same day as compostable materials. Unfortunately, compostable waste is only collected at houses and not at apartment blocks. Since I live in an apartment block, I can’t compost. However, I rarely have leftovers.
Are there steps you can take to help reduce the amount of refuse you create?
By addition to recycling, I do donations! The throwing away of clothing is one of the biggest contributions we make to landfills. When my clothes are still very good, I bring them to a Value Village near me. I also give lots of objects in good condition so they can be reused by others. Reuse old shopping bags and containers for maximum efficiency, and better yet, cloth bags. At my workplace, I always ask my food to be served in real plates instead of take out plates (made from polystyrene foam) even if I eat at my desk. I also try to buy things with less packaging and made from recycled product. I boycott plastic water bottles and I’m now using a Brita water filtration system. My cleaning products are ecological, and I sometime use vinegar and baking soda as I know they won’t hurt the environment. I but canned food in glass containers because with a metallic lid because I reuse them as herb bottles for my collection. Finally, I’m involved with the Green Committee at my workplace.
What happens to your wastewater?
Unfortunately, as in most large cities, it is especially during rain events that problems occur in Gatineau and Ottawa. Unlike the new residential areas, where use separate pipes in older neighborhoods, rainwater and domestic sewage follow the same conduct to be taken to the treatment plants. Now these old pipes are often overcrowded. To prevent backflow, the two cities have built more lines for evacuating wastewater surplus: this is called overflows. During heavy rainfall, precipitation mixes with sewage and polluted water from feces will therefore directly into the river. However, the city of Gatineau has a new wastewater treatment plan. This project involves the installation of a UV disinfection process to treat the effluent from the secondary treatment of the wastewater treatment plant, in accordance with the requirements of the Ministère du Développement durable, Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) regarding wastewater discharge. This upgrade to standards will improve the treatment of water in accordance with the objectives of the Quebec Water Policy, for effluents from many wastewater treatment plants in the province. At the resumption of construction in the spring of 2016, the installation of two transfer pipes is planned. These pipes, with a diameter of 2400 mm (94.4 in) and a length of 15 m (49.2 ft) each, are set to receive disinfected water and direct it to the outfall chamber. An insertion-type flow meter will direct the water to be disinfected to the UV disinfection building.
What rivers are nearby? Do you have a connection to them? What sort of connection?
We are surrounded by three rivers. The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, which is 1,271 km (790 mi), it defines the border between these two provinces. The Gatineau River is a river in western Quebec, Canada, which rises in lakes north of the Baskatong Reservoir and flows south to join the Ottawa River at the city of Gatineau, Quebec. The river is 386 km (239.8 mi) long and drains an area of 23,700 km². The geography of the area was altered with the construction of the Baskatong Reservoir, and it is still possible to travel upstream on the Gatineau and reach a point where a small portage will bring you to the headwaters of the Ottawa River. The Rideau River is an Eastern Ontario river which flows north from Upper Rideau Lake and empties into the Ottawa River at Rideau Falls in Ottawa, Ontario. Its length is 146 kilometers (91 mi). My major connection was with the Gatineau River. Last year, I went to the Baskatong Reservoir and I could enjoy the nature and swim at the beach. The water is clear and looks pure!
Describe the basic climate of your area. Is it often wet and rainy? Dry and sunny? Wet and sunny?
Gatineau has a humid continental climate with warm summers and no dry season. The area within 40 km of this station is covered by forests (77%), croplands (13%), lakes and rivers (5%), and built-up areas (3%). Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from -16°C to 26°C and is rarely below -27°C or above 31°C. The warm season lasts from May 20 to September 19 with an average daily high temperature above 20°C. The hottest day of the year is July 25, with an average high of 26°C and low of 15°C. The cold season lasts from December 5 to March 8 with an average daily high temperature below -1°C. The coldest day of the year is January 20, with an average low of -16°C and high of -7°C.
How has this affected the kinds of plants and animals in the area?
Some plants and animals are at risk because their habitats are disappearing or are being split up. When this happens, animals lose their homes, food and places to breed and mate. Pollution, disease, invasive species and climate change can also affect animal and plant populations. Gatineau Park is the National Capital Region’s conservation park and receives 2.7 million visits per year. The Park has a rich biodiversity and a wide range of protected habitats and ecosystems. It is also home to a number of species at risk. The popularity of the Park highlights the need to conserve and protect these natural treasures. There are over 50 lakes in the Park, including Pink Lake, one of only 58 known meromictic lakes in North America. As well as lakes, streams and rivers, the Park has several wetland areas.
What visible effects have humans had on the natural landscapes around you?
Human activities have had tangible impacts on some natural areas, especially in the southern sector of the Gatineau Park. The growing demand for recreational and urban uses has changed and fragmented the Park’s natural habitats, and incomplete knowledge of natural processes, as well as deficiencies in ecosystem monitoring procedures, have hindered the goal of environmental sustainability. Around its periphery, the Park is surrounded increasingly by farmland and, further south, by urban development, and is thus deprived of its links with contiguous natural environments. These factors raise a number of concerns relating to the environment, including: the risk of habitat loss, the risk of disrupting natural processes, the risk of colonization by invasive species, the risk of ecological isolation, and the risk of loss of diversity and rare species.
Where do the winds usually come from? Are there different winds at different times of the year?
That’s a good question. I tried my best to understand the Weather reports about wind direction, speed and gusts, but I do not understand them well. I somehow understood the graphic explaining the direction of the wind, which is majorly directed at the East (January-June and September-December), and at the West, North-West and South-West during summer (July-August). I also could determine that the speed is very constant though the year, with a slightly variation between 7 kts and 8 kts (kts means “knots”) The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour, approximately 1.151 mph or 1.852 km/h.
What major crops are grown in your region? Why are these particular crops grown here?
In Gatineau, the agricultural sector lies north of Highway 50. The agricultural area covers 316 136 hectares which is 10% of the area of the region. Horticultural crops include sheltered garden crops (greenhouse) and field, fruit and berry crops and ornamental plants and turf. The production of cereals and protein crops, mainly for animal feed, is growing significantly in the region. The main crops are corn and soybeans, which occupy over 63% of this area.
Where does your power come from (i.e. nuclear, solar, coal, gas, etc.)?
My power is hydro-electric and is provided by Hydro-Québec, which is a major supplier of electricity, relying on clean, renewable energy. Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. It uses mainly renewable generating options, in particular large hydro, and supports the development of other technologies—such as wind energy and biomass.
- City of Gatineau – “Environment“
- City of Gatineau – “Farm Development Plan“
- MAPAQ – “Portrait Agricole de l’Outaouais“
- Soleno – “City of Gatineau Wastewater Treatment Plan“
- WeatherSpark – “Gatineau“
- National Capital Commission – “Gatineau Park“
- Hydro-Québec – “About“
- Wikipedia – “Ottawa River“
- Wikipedia – “Rideau River“
- Wikipedia – “Gatineau River“