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Cochrane girl guides raise stormwater awareness with Yellow Fish project

The award-winning Yellow Fish Road program aims at preventing pollutants such as soap, fertilizer, litter, dirt, oil, pet feces and construction materials from entering storm drains.

Glenbow residents may have been surprised to see their quiet neighbourhood taken over the evening of May 12 by a crew of environmentally conscious girl guides, armed with paint brushes and raising awareness of water conservation.

In collaboration with Trout Unlimited Canada, the local chapter of the 1st Cochrane Guides were out painting stencils of fish next to storm sewer drains throughout the neighbourhood. The initiative intends to remind residents that whatever goes down the drain ultimately goes into local waterways, and has a direct negative impact on fish and other aquatic habitat.

“It’s pretty fun, painting the fish,” said 10-year-old Mia Davies. “We got a little paint on each other.”

It’s all for a good cause, she added.

“It’s very important, so people don’t put soap and stuff in the sewers, and hurt the fish," Davies said. "If you put bad things down the drain, the fish could die. You could poison the fish.”

Door hangers provided by Trout Unlimited were also distributed by the guides around the neighbourhood, containing information about the dangers of pesticides, dog feces, detergents used to wash cars, and other pollutants that can get swept down into the storm drains.

Trout Unlimited is a charitable organization whose mission is to conserve, protect and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystems for current and future generations.

Their award-winning Yellow Fish Road program aims at preventing pollutants such as soap, fertilizer, litter, dirt, oil, pet feces and construction materials from entering storm drains.

The program links learning to action and provides both curriculum and badge links for youth in Kindergarten to Grade 9. Participants learn about the impact of pollution and what steps they can take to protect their local water.

They can then take action by painting yellow fish symbols with the words ‘Rain Only’ by storm drains and distributing informative fish-shaped brochures to nearby households reminding people that ‘only rain goes down the drain.’

To date, the program has reached over a million people with door hangers in hundreds of communities across Canada.

Su Davies, the District Commissioner of the local Guides chapter (aka “Fluffy Sparkles”) took her charges out armed with paint provided by Trout Unlimited and maps from the Town of Cochrane on May 12.

“Most modern areas of Cochrane, I’m assured by the Town, have fish on the storm drains already. But the older neighbourhoods do not,” she said.

“It’s a reminder to the public that whatever you put down there, other than rainwater is going to have a knock-on effect to the environment.”

Storm water in Cochrane drains into the Bow River, Bighill Creek and Jumping Pound Creek.

Girl Guides registration opens soon at girlguides.ca.