Water stewardship is integral to water sustainability in Canada. Protecting and conserving Canada’s lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers are a top priority for water stewardship groups and aboriginal communities. These groups face many challenges in developing and implementing monitoring plans that are appropriate for assessing watershed health or responding to pollution and contamination of their watersheds. Water quality and quantity is impacted not only by increased industrialization and urbanization, but also by climate change pressures on our landscapes and infrastructures, leading to spills and other pollution events. At the same time, governments have decreased capacity and are slow to hold industry accountable in addressing negative impacts.
Citizen science is public participation in scientific research, and is gaining legitimacy as a viable option for increasing our understanding of the natural world and how it is changing. With proper training and guidance, citizen science is helping to fill the knowledge gap for watershed health.
Living Lakes Canada empowers communities to take care of the water central to their lives. We’ve played a pivotal role in training and/or creating the following stewardship groups:
Friends of Kootenay Lake
We created and trained the Friends of Kootenay Lake (FOKL) in 2012, in collaboration with the West Kootenay EcoSociety and Kootenay Lake Partnership, with support from the Real Estate Foundation of BC. We’ve played a guiding role as a member of the original Steering Committee, and now that FOKL is a registered BC Society, we continue to our guiding role as a member of the Board of Directors.
Stewards of Lac la Biche Watershed
Responding to the request of one of our partners, Keepers of the Athabasca, as well as to a strong desire from the local community, we created and trained the Stewards of Lac la Biche Watershed (SLLBW) in 2014. The County of Lac La Biche completed a Watershed Management Plan in 2009, but many of the plan’s recommendations had yet to be implemented. The Environmental Stewardship Advisory Council decided that the best way to support the plan was through community engagement and monitoring. SLLBW is now a registered Alberta Society. In 2016, Living Lakes Canada is completing a Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping project on the lake. The project will inventory the shoreline and assess the ecological value of fish and wildlife habitats so that shoreline development can be directed in a manner that will protect the highest value habitats.
Lake Windermere Ambassadors
Following the successful completion of our five-year Lake Windermere Project, we wanted to ensure water monitoring and community engagement in watershed health and management continued beyond the end of the project. Local business and community champions agreed to form a Board of Directors and have led the Lake Windermere Ambassadors as it has grown to include new members of the community and become a registered charity.