WWF-Canada Blog:
Freshwater


Get inspired by WWF Water Wednesdays on Love Nature TV

Together, with Love Nature, we are launching WWF Water Wednesdays, which will air every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning today. We are very pleased to be able to present programming that focuses on current water conservation issues.

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On the shores of Lake Ontario with the team from Blue Ant Media. © Rowena Calpito / WWF-Canada

As a teenager, I spent many days canoeing in Algonquin Park. There, water was plentiful and clean. You could scoop up and drink the water with no consequences. We took our freshwater for granted, and in some ways as Canadians we continue to do so.

On the foreground, we see a country, known around the world for its vast natural beauty. Canada is home to one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply, we have an extensive ecosystem of rivers and lakes that supports our people, our wildlife and our economy. We enjoy our waters throughout all the seasons, and the majority of us think that it will always be there, in clean and good health.

But, let’s take a step back, and take a closer look at what’s happening in the background, at what’s really happening with our freshwater system. Did you know that only one per cent of the waters of the Great Lakes are renewed each year by snow melt and rain? Or that freshwater species have declined by 76 per cent globally over the last 40 years?

WWF engages Canadians to work together to manage the health of and threats to their watersheds through programs such as the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. © CP Photography/ Stephanie Lake

WWF engages Canadians to work together to manage the health of and threats to their watersheds through programs such as the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. © CP Photography/ Stephanie Lake

In 2015 we shared the results of our research on the health of Canada’s watersheds. Out of 12 watersheds we’ve assessed in our Watershed Reports we’ve found that half are confronted with significant threats, which are already leading to changes in the ecological condition of our rivers. 

WWF assessed these watersheds based on four indicators of health; water flow, water quality, benthic invertebrates (bugs) and fish; and seven threat indicators: pollution, climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, overuse of water, alteration of water flows and invasive species. 

We have found that pollution is one of the most significant threats to Canada’s rivers. This threat is highest in the North Saskatchewan, South Saskatchewan, Great Lakes, Ottawa, St. Lawrence and Saint John–St. Croix watersheds.

David Miller speaks to water conservation in his Love Nature Moment at Humber Bay East Park. © Rowena Calpito / WWF-Canada

David Miller speaks to water conservation in his Love Nature Moment at Humber Bay East Park. © Rowena Calpito / WWF-Canada

Along with pollution, habitat fragmentation is a big threat facing Canada’s rivers today. This threat is particularly a concern in the Fraser, North Saskatchewan, South Saskatchewan, Great Lakes, Ottawa and St. Lawrence watersheds.

Every watershed we fully assessed to date shows some degree of health impairment, with the majority not meeting the minimum criteria of good ecological condition. If we don’t begin to take the current ecological health of our freshwater seriously, it will be a detriment, to our ecosystem, to our people and country.

While the reports show much work needs to be done, I am encouraged to see that as people become aware of the issues facing our freshwater, they want to help us reach our vision to have all freshwater in Canada healthy by 2025. In 2014, more than 54,000 Canadians registered to participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, removing 139,262 kg of litter from 1563 km of shoreline! In 2014, the first round of Loblaw Water Fund projects restored about 75 hectares of habitat for freshwater species and planted over 7,200 native trees and plants with the help of more than 1,500 volunteers across nine provinces and territories. As you can see, together, it is possible.

It is our hope that through WWF Water Wednesday, Canadians will continue to be inspired to get to know, and care about our freshwater. Solutions that allow people and nature to thrive do exist.